Some common questions are answered below. For more detailed explanations, or to discuss other concerns you may have, please call us at 877-474-8558.
Patients have many reasons for wanting to avoid blood transfusions. For some, religious beliefs are the primary reason. For others, concern about the safety of the blood supply or the potential health consequences of blood transfusions are the main factors.
For patients who do not consider blood transfusion an option, bloodless medicine and surgery provide peace of mind along with access to the very best healthcare. However, there are additional health benefits for all patients who opt for a bloodless approach. Patients who do not receive blood transfusions have been shown to recover faster, have shorter hospital stays, and experience fewer infections. In addition, they avoid the risks of allergic reactions, contamination, or receiving the wrong blood type. Research has also shown that patients who undergo bloodless surgery have fewer heart attacks and strokes after surgery than those who receive transfusions.
While the U.S. blood supply is safer than ever, there is still a very small risk of transmission of hepatitis B and C, malaria, syphilis, parasites, HIV, and other rare diseases. Studies have shown that patients who receive blood transfusions are at increased risk for hospital-acquired infections compared to those who do not. Finally, the body treats a blood transfusion as a type of temporary transplantation, characterized by the suppression of the body’s immune system.
Nearly every surgical procedure involves some degree of blood loss. Certain techniques used before, during, and after surgery can help minimize blood loss and eliminate the need for blood transfusions.
Before surgery, medications and nutritional supplements may be used to help your body produce more hemoglobin, which is the protein that allows your blood to carry oxygen. By raising the amount of hemoglobin in your blood, your body can better handle blood loss during surgery.
During surgery, the latest tools and techniques can be used to minimize disruption of tissues, quickly stop bleeding, and recycle blood that is lost back into your body. Special anesthesia techniques can lower blood pressure, resulting in less blood loss.
After surgery, medications and various techniques can minimize bleeding and improve the amount of oxygen present in the blood. Micro-sampling allows blood testing to be performed on much smaller quantities of blood than are typically drawn, further conserving blood. Many blood tests can be performed with only one-tenth the amount of blood that is traditionally drawn.
The Center for Bloodless Medicine and Surgery at Johns Hopkins gives patients access to world-renowned healthcare at a premier hospital. The bloodless program blends seamlessly with the comprehensive specialties the hospital offers, so that patients who wish to avoid blood transfusions no longer need to compromise their medical and surgical care. Our specialists on the bloodless team are highly experienced doctors and researchers who understand and respect the decision to avoid blood products.