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Medical First! Bloodless Heart Transplant — Research Summary

Medical First! Bloodless Heart Transplant — Research Summary

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BACKGROUND: With someone needing blood every two seconds in the US for one reason or another, surgeries and medical procedures performed without the use of blood are preferable choice by many today. Reasons why bloodless surgeries are catching on across America include religious beliefs. Jehovah's Witnesses believe that the blood carries the soul and that would make a blood transfusion sacrilegious . Also thousands of people are dying each year after being given contaminated blood. Bloodless surgery is an approach to health care that began in the 1960s as simple avoidance of the use of transfused blood. It has grown over the last four decades, however, to include changed attitudes toward blood conservation as well as new technologies that minimize the need for transfusions during surgery. The Center for Bloodless Medicine and Surgery at Hartford Hospital in Connecticut defines bloodless surgery as "...surgical and medical treatment without the administration of blood or blood-related products."

TECHNIQUES: Patients who are considering a bloodless surgery will be given a list of recommendations and techniques to be used to help the procedure's safety. They include: diet management, medications, anesthesia techniques, and surgical methods to minimize blood loss and conserve blood.

  • DIET MANAGEMENT: Diet and nutrition is vital. Some recommendations would be take other vitamin supplements such as B-12 or folic acid, take other iron supplements such as ferrous sulfate or ferrous gluconate, maintain a nutritious diet high in iron to increase the amount of iron in your blood, and increase intake of vitamin C so the iron is absorbed more effectively.
  • MEDICATIONS: The body may require certain medications to help increase red or white blood cells or hemoglobin levels. Medications may assist with minimizing blood loss and maximizing the amount of oxygen in your blood. Oxygen carriers including perfluorocarbons and hemoglobin substitutes, Vitamin K, Vasopressin, Desmopressin, and Aminocaproic acid are all recommended medications prescribed by doctors.
  • ANESTHESIA TECHNIQUES: Some specific techniques used by the doctor include: Volume expanders (crystalloids/colloids), Hypotensive anesthesia, Hypothermia, and Normovolemic hemodilution.
  • SURGICAL METHODS TO MINIMIZE BLOOD LOSS AND CONSERVE BLOOD: Some methods would be Electrocautery, ultrasonic scalpel, laser surgery, argon beam coagulator, auto transfusion devices, and selective embolization (www.bloodlesssurgery.org).

A SUCCESS STORY: At Nationwide Children's hospital, bloodless techniques have been taken to a whole new level. In December 2010, the hospital performed its first successful bloodless heart transplant on the youngest person to ever receive a heart transplant, a 6 year old boy, Andrew Craver. Andrew suffered from a condition known as dilated cardiomyopathy, where the heart is weakened and enlarged. Some techniques used by Dr. Galantowicz, M.D., chief of Cardiothoracic Surgery at Nationwide Children's, include limiting how much blood was taken for pre-operative testing; utilizing modified tubes and heart bypass machines that have smaller components to reduce necessary blood; and using a machine, "cell saver," during the surgery that captures shed blood and processes it to be put back into the body. Andrew is now back to being a normal energized young boy thanks to Dr. Galantowicz and his medical staff. Studies have shown that using a patient's own blood cuts infection rates by more than half. Dr. Galantowicz hopes to treat patients with as few transfusions as possible in the future. (Source: www.nationwidechildrenshospital.org). MORE

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