"We can handle any medical problem without the use of blood or blood
products," said Dr. Vinod Malhotra, medical director of the bloodless
medicine and surgery program at the hospital.
Anything from open heart surgery to a caesarean section can be performed
successfully without blood transfusions.
"Blood conservation helps the community because then it will only go to
the the needy and not be used frivolously," Malhotra said.
Most bloodless techniques are practiced before and during surgeries, when
transfusions would most likely take place. For a bloodless medicine
patient, preparation for surgery requires doctors to bring a patient's
hemoglobin level to an optimum level using iron, vitamins or synthetic
During surgery, many surgeons now make fewer and smaller incisions.
Surgeons also use a cautery to cut. This instrument burns through and
seals the blood vessel before it bleeds. These techniques minimize the
However, if blood is lost during the surgery, doctors will replace it
with other fluids, such as saline.
"It is not necessary to replace blood with blood," Malhotra said.
Replacing the volume of fluid is more important than replacing the blood
itself, he said. The human body can easily tolerate a loss of up to 1 1/2
pints of blood without danger, Malhotra said.
If patients need more blood, the cell saver machine is designed to
recycle the patient's own blood. This machine preserves red blood cells,
cleans them and reintroduces them into the body.
Although many people are still learning about bloodless medicine,
Jehovah's Witnesses have been using it for some time. According to their
beliefs, whole blood, red blood cells, white blood cells and plasma from
another person cannot be accepted into the body. This type of bloodless
medical practice was born as a way to treat Jehovah's Witnesses who
wished to adhere to their religious beliefs.
"It's a real lifesaver and a great benefit for Jehovah's Witnesses," said
Roland Martinez, health care coordinator for the bloodless medicine
program at the hospital, who is also a Jehovah's Witness.
One life it saved was Kimberely Hines, who was diagnosed with chronic