Erythropoietin (Eprex, Epoetin Alfa®)

What is it?

  • Erythropoietin is a hormone (chemical messenger) in the kidney that stimulates the making of red blood cells. Epoetin Alfa is a protein that has the same effects as naturally occurring erythropoietin. It does NOT contain any human blood components.

How is it given?

  • Before your surgery, it is injected into your arm. It will eventually reach your blood. It takes several weeks for these medications to have their effect.

What are the benefits?

  • By causing the body to make more red blood cells, it may decrease the need for a red blood cell transfusion. It increases the hemoglobin level in your blood.

What are the risks or side effects?

  • Epoetin Alfa should not be used in patients with high blood pressure. It can make your blood thicker causing even higher blood pressure. A rare risk is that your bone marrow may stop making red blood cells, making you dependent on transfusions.