Can a surgeon conduct a successful surgery without the use of blood? That has been a topic of ongoing debate in the medical community and one local hospital appears to be having success with bloodless surgery.
The techniques are five years in the making at University of Kansas Hospital and the bloodless surgeries are quite successful. It's also saving the hospital money and improving patient safety.
The hospital did 114 liver transplants without using a drop of blood. That was virtually unheard of not too long ago, but now it's a fairly common practice.
"It's been shown over the last five-to-10 years that blood transfusion is often not needed and by not doing a blood transfusion we can make sure people don't have adverse reactions to the blood," said Dr. Lowell Tilzer, a pathologist at the University of Kansas Hospital.
Tilzer said the procedure is pretty simple. Instead of transfusing blood during a surgery, the doctor would wait until the patient's hemoglobin - the oxygen-carrying protein in red blood cells - drops to a low level. That's when the doctor would use oxygen and fluids instead of blood.
"They (the patients) do just fine and actually they do better in most cases," Tilzer said.
This type of surgery comes at a time when the blood shortage is critically low. The Community Blood Center which supplies blood to hospitals is down to a half-a-day supply, thanks to the cold and flu season. University of Kansas Hospital has not had to delay or cancel surgeries because of the blood supply.
Tilzer insists the bloodless procedure is a safer option for patients.
"They're not exposed when they don't need to be exposed to such things as too much blood and circulatory overload," he said.
This procedure has already saved the hospital the millions of dollars it would have spent in acquiring blood and cuts down on surgery prep time. We're told other hospitals are also doing bloodless surgeries based on the success at University of Kansas Hospital.
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