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Self-Infusion: What Kids Need to Know

Can you think about what you want to do when you get older? Maybe go away to college, work in an exciting city, or travel to a different country? You can do all these things and more. First, you will want to learn all you can about your bleeding disorder and what you need to do to keep yourself healthy.

One important thing you need to learn is how to infuse your own factor. This is called self-infusion. When you start to self-infuse, you’ll have more control over your own health care. Plus, it shows your parents that you’re responsible and ready for more independence.

In this section of Next Step you will learn a lot about self-infusion, including:

Are You Ready to Self-Infuse?

Take a look at the checklist below and mark each task that you’re already doing on your own. If you think you’re ready to learn self-infusion, your parents and the Hemophilia Treatment Center (HTC) team will show you all the steps involved in giving yourself your medication. Camp is also a great place to learn how to self-infuse. Watching someone else your own age perform self-infusion can help you better understand the process.

You may be ready for self-infusion, if you:

  • Complete chores around the house.
  • Do homework without being reminded.
  • Know the name and severity of your bleeding disorder.
  • Know the name(s) of your medicine(s).
  • Know how much medicine you take and when to take it.
  • Can identify the signs of a bleed.
  • Can find, read, and understand what is written on the label of your medicine, including the expiration date.
  • Can list all the supplies you use for your infusions.
  • Have veins that are easy to find.
  • Are calm during infusions.
  • Understand sterilization and why it’s important for your infusions.
  • Keep a treatment journal of your infusions.

Safety Precautions

During infusion, everything needs to be clean and sterile. What’s the difference between clean and sterile? Clean means that you are getting rid of dirt and reducing the amount of germs. Sterile means that no germs exist. Your hands and work area will be clean during the infusion; your needles will be sterile. Never let your sterile needle touch anything nonsterile, such as the tabletop or floor. If it does, throw it out and use a new needle.

Here are some other safety precautions to remember during self-infusion:

  • Clean your infusion work area (for instance, the tabletop) before and after the infusion.
  • Wash your hands and arms before and after the infusion.
    • Use warm water and soap or cleanser with alcohol.
    • Wash arms up to the elbow.
  • Wear gloves during your infusion and when you throw away supplies, including gauze and needles, after the infusion.
  • Never reuse or share needles.
  • Used needles should be placed in your sharps container.
  • If you spill any factor or blood on your work area, use chlorine bleach to clean it up.

Staying Organized!

Make your treatment part of your normal routine:

  • Create an infusion schedule.
    • Infuse at the same time and place every time.
  • Put your supplies in one place.
    • Pick a place for your supplies, like a shelf in the cupboard or a plastic bin.
    • Make it off-limits to anything but your supplies.
  • Keep a treatment journal to track your infusions.
    • Hang a wall calendar near the place you infuse and place the sticker from your medicine on the calendar marking the day you infused.
    • If you have a smart phone, try one of the phone apps to log infusions.
  • Factor replacement product
  • Syringes
  • Sterile alcohol swabs
  • Clean cloth for work area (or disposable pads)
  • Needles, butterfly needles, or central line accessing equipment
  • Gloves
  • Tourniquet
  • Gauze pads
  • Adhesive bandages
  • Tape
  • Sharps container
  • Skin-numbing preparation (if recommended by the Hemophilia Treatment Center [HTC])
  • Treatment journal

Tips for Starting Self-Infusion

You might be a bit nervous the first time you self-infuse, but with practice, you’ll feel less afraid and more comfortable with the process.

Here are some tips to help you prepare for self-infusion:

  • If you’ve never tried infusing yourself, watch someone your own age self-infuse.
  • Ask questions about the process so you understand each step before you begin your own self-infusion regimen.
  • Once you’re ready to self-infuse, be organized! Set up all your supplies in an orderly fashion before you begin the process.
  • Find a comfortable position.
  • Count to three to signal to yourself when you are ready to place the needle into your vein.
  • Take deep breaths and imagine how proud you’ll feel once you’ve accomplished self-infusion.
To test your knowledge about self-infusion, go to Self-Infusion Word Games.