If You Need to Go to the Hospital 39
A blood transfusion may be given in an emergency, when you have lost a lot of
blood. It can save your life. But if the blood has not been tested properly, it can
carry diseases, such as hepatitis or HIV, that are spread through the blood. Avoid
blood transfusions except in cases of life or death emergencies.
If you must have an operation that you know about ahead of time, see if it is
possible to have some of your own blood taken in advance and stored at the
hospital. Then if you need it, you will get your own blood back. If you cannot have
your own blood stored, ask a friend or relative to come with you to the
hospital. Be sure she has been tested recently for hepatitis and HIV,
and that neither she nor her partner has had a new sex partner in
the last 3 months. Her blood must also be tested to make sure that
it will work in your body.
If you must receive blood from an unknown person
and the hospital does not test its blood for HIV, there
is a risk that you might become infected. After the
transfusion, protect your partner by practicing safer
sex for 3 months and then try to get tested for HIV.
For more information, see the chapters on “HIV” and
After you have an operation
Before you leave the hospital, ask:
• What should I do to keep the
• What should I do about pain?
• How long should I rest?
• When can I have sex again? (If you
feel too shy to ask this, perhaps
the doctor or health worker can
talk to your partner.)
• Do I need to see a doctor again?
If so, when?
Eat soft, mild foods that are easy to digest.
To keep your lungs healthy
and prevent pneumonia,
move around if you can. While
in bed, take deep breaths and
try to sit up often.
Rest as much as you can. If you are at home, ask your family
to take care of your daily chores. A few days spent taking care
of yourself can help you get better faster.
Watch for signs of infection: yellow discharge (pus), a bad smell,
fever, hot skin near where you were cut, or more pain. See a
health worker if you have any of these signs.
If your operation was in the abdomen, try not to strain the area
that was cut. Press against it gently with a folded cloth, blanket,
or pillow whenever you move or cough.
Where Women Have No Doctor 2012