In some cases, surgery and other procedures can result in blood loss. If this is a concern, your doctor will discuss your options for blood donation before your child is admitted to UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital.

Not all surgeries require blood transfusions. You have the right to refuse a blood transfusion for your child, although the decision may have life-threatening consequences.

There are three sources for blood:

  • Self Donation — Using your child's own blood, called autologous donation, can minimize the need for donated blood and reduce — but not eliminate — the risk of transfusion-related infections and allergic reactions. To donate blood, your child must weigh at least 110 pounds and be 17 years or older. Your child's doctor will advise you whether it is safe for your child to donate his or her own blood. Although you may donate up to three days before your operation, it is better to donate earlier so your child's body has a chance to restore the donated blood.
  • Community Donors — If you or your child can't donate blood, can't donate enough blood or choose not to donate, your child will receive blood from donors. Unpaid community donors are screened and then tested to ensure that donated blood is as safe as possible. Although blood and blood products can never be 100 percent safe, the risk is very small.
  • Designated Donors — Some patients prefer to receive blood from people they know, who are called designated or directed donors. There is no medical evidence that this blood is safer than blood donated by other volunteers. Designated donors must meet the same requirements as community donors.

Under California law, if your child's need for blood is not urgent, you have the right to be given time to arrange for either autologous or designated donation. You also must be informed of the advantages and disadvantages of each of these kinds of blood donations.