While some of the basic ideas and concepts constituting what is known today as bloodless medicine have been around for centuries, the idea of a set of medical and surgical techniques aimed specifically at eliminating the necessity of blood transfusions has only been around since the 1960s. The idea was spurred mainly by Jehovah’s Witnesses, who became outspoken about their opposition to blood transfusions in the beginning of the 20th century.
Physicians were initially skeptical about performing complex surgeries and operations without using blood transfusions. However, after decades of campaigning and even federal court cases, Witnesses won the right to be treated without blood transfusions.
The early practitioners of bloodless medicine worked almost exclusively with Jehovah’s Witnesses to perform bloodless surgery. In many cases, doctors, nurses and healthcare professionals noticed the results from bloodless operations were actually better than similar operations where a transfusion had been performed. Benefits included quicker recovery times and lower costs. Eventually, these physicians began publishing their results, noting the advantages to these bloodless procedures over traditional blood transfusions. They also explained these benefits to other physicians and encouraged them to adopt the practices with non-Witness patients.
After surgeons in New Orleans and Los Angeles gained attention for performing bloodless open heart surgeries (or “bloodless hearts”), the popularity of bloodless surgery techniques with physicians began to spread around the world. By the late 1970s, bloodless medicine was available at healthcare systems in the U.S., Canada, Europe and India.
Not long thereafter, the public began to take notice as well. Concerns about the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) led to people beginning to question where the source of donated blood used in transfusions was coming from. Fear over contracting AIDS through contaminated donor blood led to large numbers of non-Witness patients requesting bloodless surgeries.
Physicians have generally welcomed the increased demand for bloodless surgery in the modern medical climate. Bloodless surgeries have a number of specific advantages to both the patient and surgeon, as well as benefits to the hospital systems offering bloodless surgery. Because more than 50% of surgeries in the U.S. are pre-planned or elective surgeries, many doctors are actually encouraging their patients to consider blood transfusion alternatives.
Why do doctors and healthcare professionals like bloodless surgery methods? There are a number of specific reasons why a particular doctor or healthcare system might choose to offer bloodless medicine program. However, there are two huge advantages that benefit the doctor, the patient and the healthcare system.
1.) Bloodless Surgeries have fewer complications –
Fewer complications mean fewer post-surgery procedures and a quicker recovery time. This is obviously good for patients, but it is good for physicians as well. It frees up more of their time and lessens the likelihood that they could lose a patient in surgery.