"It has been available to patients who refused a transfusion due to religious convictions, but most of the general public is still unaware this option now exists for them as well," comments Charles R. Bridges, MD, ScD, Chief of Cardiothoracic Surgery at Pennsylvania Hospital and Associate Professor of Surgery at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.
"Traditionally, heart surgery is associated with the greatest blood loss of all surgical procedures so it is a technological challenge to routinely perform open-heart surgery without a transfusion. But we have a unique combination of skills and a coordinated team that is not commonly available elsewhere. We have the infrastructure in place to perform these bloodless surgeries often and well," states Bridges. "Not everyone will be a good candidate for this type of surgery, but I do predict that if patients meet certain criteria, more than 90% of them will be able to undergo heart surgery without receiving a blood transfusion."
PREPPING YOUR OWN BLOOD
Before surgery, patients see Patricia Ford, MD, a Hematologist and Director of the Center for Bloodless Medicine and Surgery at Pennsylvania Hospital, which is certified as a national bloodless center. She works with patients to prepare their blood for this option. Ford adds, "We work with our surgical patients to make sure they're at their best positioning in terms of blood count, including their hemoglobin and platelets, for clotting purposes. We want to make sure their blood parameters are at their best for the surgery. We can give your body a drug that helps you to build up blood cells naturally, allowing your body to increase its blood by about one unit a
Contact: Susanne Hartman
University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine