Rethinking Healthcare

HemoSep salvages blood spilled during surgery

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And then pumps it right back into the patient lying on the operating table. Reusing your own blood cuts down on the cost of donor blood and the risk of bad transfusion reactions.

HemoSep recovers blood spilled during open-heart or major trauma surgery and then concentrates the blood cells for transfusion back into the patient lying on the operating table.

The process – called autotransfusion – reduces the amount of donor blood required, along with the bad reactions associated with transfusions, including massive blood loss.

You get back your own blood, while cutting down costs and risks... that's the hope.

Developed at the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, this surgical blood salvaging device sucks blood from the surgical site or drains it from the heart-lung machine after the surgery.

  • It consists of a blood bag that uses a chemical sponge technology to soak up the unwanted plasma, which has diluted the blood during the operation.
  • A mechanical agitator stops the blood from settling and concentrates the blood sucked from the patient.
  • The bag’s polycarbonate membrane lets the plasma through but keeps the important blood components separate – these include proteins and clotting factors.
  • The separated, concentrated cells are then returned to the patient intravenously.

Watch a demonstration (with cow blood) on BBC.

Current techniques require a few extra steps: blood is drawn from another person, processed through a centrifuge, and then pumped back into the patient.

In clinical trials with over 100 open-heart surgery operations in Turkey, the device reduced the need for blood transfusions, preserved normal clotting mechanisms, and reduced the inflammatory reaction commonly encountered after such surgical procedures, according to a news release.

"Blood is not free, by any measure,” says University of Strathclyde’s Terry Gourlay. The latest studies suggest that a unit of blood costs upwards of $1,600.

HemoSep has just received approval in Europe and Canada. The technology has been licensed to Advancis Surgical Ltd, which plans to launch the device in September.

[Via BBC]

Image: University of Strathclyde, Glasgow

Janet Fang

Contributing Editor

Janet Fang has written for Nature, Discover and the Point Reyes Light. She is currently a lab technician at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. She holds degrees from the University of California, Berkeley and Columbia University. She is based in New York. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure