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The History of Bloodless Medicine & Surgery

"Bloodless Medicine and Surgery" is a term that came into vogue decades ago. By definition it means surgery or medical care without the use of allogeneic blood (stored blood).

Blood transfusion became a medical standard after an anticoagulant, sodium citrate, was discovered by Dr. Richard Lewisten of Mount Sinai Hospital in New York. This was just in time for World War II. There is no question this new discovery saved lives.

However, medical literature as early as the 1940s reported there were risks with blood transfusion. Later, the 1980s gave the world a wake-up call with the epidemic of HIV.

In 1962, Dr. Denton Cooley made history by performing the first "bloodless" heart surgery. He reported this case in 1964. Dr. Cooley pioneered performing intricate heart and vascular surgery without blood on adults and children. He concluded that "the risk of surgery in patients of the Jehovah's Witness group has not been substantially higher than for others." (D.A. Ott, D.A. Cooley, "Cardiovascular surgery in Jehovah's Witnesses: Report of 542 operations without blood transfusion." Journal of the American Medical Association 238 (September 1977) 1256-1258). Thus emerged a new frontier of endless possibilities.

Dr. Ronald Lapin founded a bloodless medicine and surgery center in Norwalk, California. He developed techniques that would reduce blood loss. Dr. Lapin was an international speaker, and was the subject of the book No Man's Blood. His untimely death in 1995 did not stop this new frontier. Indeed, throughout the world, many centers still use Dr. Lapin's techniques. Now, the field is increasing at a fast pace.

From 1962 to our present time, many exciting innovations have helped the field of bloodless medicine and surgery. Cell saver technology, pharmaceuticals, harmonic scalpel, hyperbaric oxygen chamber, and argon beam coagulators are just a few innovations used at Spartanburg Regional.

Now, physicians do not, in many instances, need to give their patients a blood transfusion.

Find out your options. If possible, plan ahead.

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