Your Health: Bloodless heart surgery
People who are practicing Jehovah’s Witnesses and Christian Scientists have religious beliefs that require them to avoid transfusions.
LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - There are 500,000 open heart surgeries done in the United States every year. half of those patients require a blood transfusion.
But what if you’ve had a complication during a transfusion in the past, or if your religion forbids it?
It is a major, life-saving procedure but it can also cause significant blood loss – open heart surgery presents unique challenges for patients who must avoid blood transfusions. Cardiovascular surgeon Dr. John Puskas says one key is to prepare well before the patient is wheeled into the OR.
“We give patients something called erythropoietin – a hormone that increases their blood counts prior to surgery,” explains Dr. Puskas.
Dr. Puskas and his colleagues can use a new surgical technique for bypass patients.
“We do this all arterial, no aortic touch operation, meaning we don’t connect any of the bypass grafts to the aorta,” Dr. Puskas said.
By avoiding the aorta, doctors minimize blood loss. The no-touch bypass surgery means they can also avoid putting a patient on a heart-lung machine, which lowers the risk of blood loss. And if patients do lose blood, doctors use a medical procedure to safely recycle it.
“Washed centrifuge and returned to the patient, so that we use these cell savers or cell salvage devices in the operating room,” Dr. Puskas said.
It’s a medical technique that saves lives and allows doctors to respect patients’ wishes.
People who are practicing Jehovah’s Witnesses and Christian Scientists have religious beliefs that require them to avoid transfusions. Additionally, some people have conditions that cause allergic reactions to blood during transfusions.
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