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Blood Conservation

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take to build my blood up for surgery?

Every patient is different, but if you take your blood conservation medications and nutrition as instructed, usually your hemoglobin will increase 1 g/Dl per week. This is why is it so important to start your iron (ferrous sulfate), vitamin C and folic acid as so as you decide to have surgery. We would like your hemoglobin well above the normal  low limit or the highest possible level for you.

How should I take my iron pill?

Your iron and vitamin C should be taken to together. The iron needs a more acidic environment to be optimally absorbed. Avoid coffee, tea and dairy products 1 hour prior to and after taking iron and vitamin C. Calcium and antacids, such as Maalox, Tums,  and  Mylanta decrease iron absorption. Histamine H2 antagonists  and proton pump inhibitors (PPI) such as any acid reflux medication also decreases iron absorption. Wait 2 hours after taking your iron before taking any of these medications.

Iron makes me constipated. What should I do for this?

It is important not to stop your iron. Iron may cause constipation. Start by drinking plenty of fluids and eat plenty of fiber. If needed, over the counter stool softeners may help. Rarely, iron may cause diarrhea, do not stop your iron. Call your blood conservation coordinator.

My stools are dark green. What’s causing this?

Dark green stools can occur from something you ate, such as spinach. Green  stools can also be caused by taking the iron and is rarely cause for concern.

My doctor said I am anemic because I don’t have enough vitamin B12. What does vitamin B12 have to do with anemia?

Vitamin B12 helps your body make and mature red blood cells. Patients who have not been eating well may not be eating enough foods that contain vitamin B12. These food include meats, liver and dairy products. The most affective way to treat vitamin B12 anemia is with an injection of vitamin B12 that is given once a month. vitamin B12 anemia may also be due to the body’s inability to absorb vitamin B12. Your blood conservation team will help you improve your vitamin B12 absorption.

It was recommended that before my surgery I need to stop drinking green tea for at least 10 days. Why?

Green tea contains vitamins E and K and affects how your platelets function. Platelets help your blood to clot. During surgery, platelets help clotting so that excessive bleeding does not occur. You are asked to stop drinking green tea at least 10 days prior to surgery to help decrease your blood loss during and after surgery.Your blood conservation coordinator will discuss other herbs, supplements and medications to stop prior to surgery.