Others involve the use of innovative medications, such as the hormone erythropoietin, which stimulates the bone marrow to produce red blood cells. In the operating room, physicians use sophisticated surgical instruments such as a harmonic scalpel, which simultaneously cuts tissues and stops bleeding, and pay meticulous attention to surgical technique. They also use special surgical sealants and glues to control minor bleeding, and drugs such as tranexamic acid to help blood clot normally.
Blood that is spilled during surgery often is collected, cleaned and returned to the patient using high-tech systems. Advocates of bloodless medicine think that avoiding transfusions is worth all this effort, pointing to the dangers associated with transfusions.
Minor allergic reactions are among the most common side effects. But, infrequently, incompatibilities between the donor and recipient trigger more serious reactions. For example, when patients are mistakenly given the wrong type of blood, their immune systems attack the newly transfused red blood cells, with potentially devastating consequences.
Within several hours of the transfusion, these patients sometimes become severely short of breath, and their lungs fill with fluid. This syndrome, called transfusion-related acute lung injury, or TRALI, is the leading cause of transfusion-related deaths about 24 per year in the U. The threat of contracting an infectious illness, however, is what many patients worry about most.
Donors infected with viruses such as hepatitis or HIV, or parasites such as those that cause malaria, can transmit these illnesses to the patients who receive their blood.
Transfusion experts say such dangers are sometimes overstated. According to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, the risk of getting HIV or hepatitis C from a transfusion is about 1 in 2 million transfusions; the risk of exposure to hepatitis B is higher, approximately 1 in , Proponents of bloodless medicine argue their case from another angle as well.
- Transfusion-Free Medicine.
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They think that avoiding transfusions improves outcomes, and they insist that transfusion-free patients recover more quickly and experience fewer complications than those who receive blood. Share This Page: Post Tweet.
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Why "Transfusion-Free"? Evidence has shown that this approach to medical care is associated with: Improved outcomes Less exposure to emerging viruses and infections Faster recovery time Reduced post-operative infections Patients choose transfusion-free medicine and surgery for personal, ethical or religious reasons. It's Your Choice. Contact Us For more information about transfusion-free medicine and surgery at Rhode Island Hospital and Hasbro Children's Hospital, please call Back to All Locations.