Salvaged Blood Safer, Cheaper than Transfusions, Study Says

Cheryl Clark, May 12, 2014

The use of cell savers to re-circulate blood into surgical patients can deliver higher quality red cells, eliminate transfusion risks, and cost hospitals less than donated units from a blood bank, research finds.

Hospitals should more frequently use cell savers or autologous blood recovery systems to recirculate patients' own blood instead of transfusing units from a blood bank, a Johns Hopkins researcher suggests. Greater use of cell savers could also save hospitals money, he says.

"We looked at patients who received their own blood that was recycled and given back, and patients who also received blood from the blood bank, and we found that the ones who received their own blood had higher quality red cells after surgery than those who received blood from the blood bank," says Steven Frank, MD, associate professor of anesthesiology and critical care medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

Last year, Frank's research discovered that when donated blood intended for use in transfusions sits on the shelf, it deteriorates and is less able to carry oxygen after 21 days in a unit's maximum 42-day unit's shelf life.

But some physicians and researchers questioned whether the use of cell savers, in which the patient's own blood that would be lost is pumped out, cleaned and re-circulated back into the patient during surgery, "might beat up the red cells and damage them," Frank says.


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