Surgery Without Blood Transfusions

Monday, February 25, 2008

The Feb. 7 Washington in Brief news story "FDA Fines Red Cross $4.6 Million" described government regulators finding improper screening of blood donations. Several times recently, The Post has discussed doctors' concerns about blood transfusions, among them the numbers of heart attacks and strokes in recipients.

Surgery without transfusions has been successful for years and may consist of four things:

¿ a cell saver, a blood salvage device that collects blood from the incision site and returns it to the patient;

¿ erythropoietin, a hormone that stimulates bone marrow to produce red blood cells;

¿ an argon beam coagulator, an electrocautery surgical device that controls small artery bleeding;

¿ non-blood fluids to maintain blood volume.

As of 2006, 142 hospitals in the United States offered some version of bloodless treatment. Many studies have proven that without transfusions patients recover faster and hospital costs are reduced. As a patient advocate, I believe that this approach will continue to help reduce the staggering costs of health care.



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