Bloodless Medicine

Human blood magnified 600 times
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When undergoing surgery if you elect not to receive any blood transfusions or blood products it is known by the term bloodless medicine. There are numerous medical and ethical reasons why a patient may choose this approach.

Bloodless medicine is a revolutionary field in medicine at the moment and is continually growing due to cutting-edge techniques being developed. Due to the innovativeness of these techniques it means that only a select amount of medical centres have the right equipment and clinical staff trained to carry out bloodless medicine.

Bloodless medicine techniques can be used before during or after surgery and can include a combination of diet, medication, surgical techniques, and other tactics. The most common objectives are to:

  • Increase red blood cell count prior to surgery.
  • Monitor and optimize oxygen levels during surgery.
  • Prevent blood loss during surgery.
  • Recycling of your own blood during surgery by earlier collection.

People choose to use bloodless medicine for many reasons. An example is religion. Jehovah’s Witness’ for example are told not to accept blood transfusions as blood symbolizes life and therefore has a special significance thus it should not be misused. It states that blood should not be removed from the body and stored, nor taken by another person. This means that Jehovah’s Witness’ do not accept blood transfusions and undergo bloodless medicine. Another reason was people were scared the blood transfused had a chance of being infected with a disease as it may not have been screened correctly. In the 1980’s many haemophiliacs contracted HIV from unscreened donated blood which put many people off blood transfusions. Although in the current day and age there are precautions to ensure this does not happen and that any blood donated is carefully tested and screened before transfusion.

There are some benefits to bloodless medicine compared to traditional medicinal methods. For example it allows people to avoid potential blood reactions and contaminants and allows people to follow their religious beliefs. It also helps minimize blood supply issues and bloodless medicine also seems to result in fewer complications normally associated with transfusions such as lung injuries.

Overall if you are considering bloodless medicine and surgery you need to ensure that you fully understand the risks that accompany the procedure you are having. It is best to discuss your personal risk factors with your doctor and health care team and weigh up all the positives and negatives before making up your mind on whether to undergo bloodless medicine and surgery.

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