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No blood !

If you think that statement is solely linked with Jehovah’s Witnesses, then you are well behind the times. Today, there is an ever increasing groundswell of disdain for blood transfusions and the dangers associated with them. More and more people, from all walks and life, are actively seeking safer medical treatment. Worldwide there are more than 90,000 doctors who specialise in non-blood treatment. The tragedy of AIDS has made the public aware that the blood supply can never be completely safe. In fact, a recent poll in Canada showed that 89 % of people there would prefer an alternative to donated blood.

The question, then, is what – if any – realistic alternatives are there to blood transfusions?

The truth of the matter is that – largely due to the stand of Jehovah’s Witnesses – bloodless medicine and surgery has reached an advanced level of development and is the preferred treatment of many informed people. The reasons for this are not hard to see:
(1) Post-operative infections and complications are avoided
(2) Blood type matching complications are avoided
(3) There is a 25% cost saving with bloodless surgery
(4) Recovery time increases by up to 50%

What, then, are the alternatives to blood transfusions? The following procedures have been safely performed on thousands of patients:
(1) Fluids: Ringer’s lactate solution, dextran, hydroxyethel starch and others are used to maintain blood volume, preventing hypovolemic shock. Some fluids now being tested can transport oxygen.
(2) Drugs: Genetically engineered proteins can stimulate the production of red blood cells, blood platelets and various white blood cells. Other medications greatly reduce blood loss during surgery or help to reduce actual bleeding.
(3) Biological Hemostats: Collagen and cellulose woven pads are used to stop bleeding by direct application. Fibrin glues and sealants can plug puncture wounds or cover large areas of bleeding tissue.
(4) Blood Salvage: Salvaging machines recover blood that is lost during surgery or trauma. The blood is cleansed and can be returned to the patient in a closed circuit.
(5) Surgical Techniques: Thorough operative planning, including consultation with experienced clinicians, helps the surgical team to avoid complications. Prompt action to stop bleeding is essential.
(6) Surgical Tools: Some devices cut and seal blood vessels simultaneously. Other devices can seal bleeding on large areas of tissue. Laparoscopic and minimally invasive instruments allow surgeries to be performed without the blood loss associated with large incisions.