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Blood Conservation

Southlake's Peri-operative Blood Conservation Program is part of the Ontario Nurse Transfusion Coordinators Program (ONTraC), which is funded by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.

The goal of the ONTraC Program is to enhance blood transfusion practices by promoting alternatives to blood transfusion in surgical patients, and improving patient care and well-being in a cost-effective manner.

At Southlake, the Peri-operative Blood Conservation Program aims to:

  • decrease the need for blood transfusion during scheduled or elective surgery;
  • promote alternatives to allogeneic (donor) blood transfusion in surgical patients;
  • educate patients and their families, physicians, and staff about the benefits and risks of blood transfusion.

Currently, Southlake is one of 25 centres throughout Ontario with a Blood Conservation Coordinator.


Anemia is a medical term which means that a person does not have enough red blood cells in his/her body. Red blood cells are important because they contain hemoglobin which carries oxygen from your lungs to your tissues. Your body needs oxygen in order to survive and to give you energy. Some types of anemia are temporary and may be caused by:





  • poor diet
  • shortage of iron, vitamin B12, or folic acid in your diet
  • blood loss, such as during menstruation or surgery, or from a bleeding ulcer
  • medications which interfere with your body's ability to produce red blood cells

Other types of anemia are chronic and may last for a long time. The causes of chronic anemia can include the following:

  • cancer and cancer treatment
  • chronic diseases, such as kidney failure or severe arthritis
  • inherited blood disorders

How do I know if I am anemic?
The only way for a person to know if he/she is anemic is to have a blood test to check the red blood cell and hemoglobin levels.

How is anemia treated?
Treatment for anemia depends on the cause. If a person has too little iron, vitamin B12, or folic acid to make red blood cells work effectively, a change of diet and use of specific vitamins and/or iron pills may be recommended. In some cases, injections of a medication that will increase production of red blood cells may be used.

Why is anemia a risk in surgery?
If you lose too much blood during surgery, your organs and tissues may not get enough of the oxygen they need to do their work. As a result, you may not respond well to surgery and your recovery might be delayed.



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Southlake Regional Health Centre
596 Davis Drive, Newmarket, Ontario   L3Y 2P9
Tel: 905-895-4521   |   TTY: 905-952-3062
Copyright © 2012 Southlake Regional Health Centre