Blood Conservation Program at St. Joseph’s/Candler Reduces Number of Transfusions in Patients

St. Joseph's/Candler, in partnership with the American Red Cross, has adopted best medical  practices regarding the distribution of blood products which include the development of the Blood Conservation Program. The Program's main purpose is to eliminate or reduce the amount of transfused blood by offering safe, alternative methods for patients that may be at risk for needing a blood transfusion.

Why the Blood Conservation is Life-Saving Technology

St. Joseph's/Candler has always used blood and blood products carefully. However, in recent years, the blood supply has decreased for many reasons. The donor population is shrinking due to general aging of the donor population, the emergence of more and more known disease processes and medication therapy. The development of AIDS, HIV and other blood borne diseases, including hepatitis C, reduces the number of units available. Additionally, more units are being requested to treat those with cancer, surgery and chronic conditions. 

How the Blood Conservation Program Works

St. Joseph's/Candler's Blood Conservation Program utilizes an integrated team approach of highly skilled physicians, nurses, technicians and support staff that fully understand and support this option to traditional blood transfusion treatment. This does not mean that traditional blood transfusion may not occur. It simply means that the criterion for such a transfusion is more greatly scrutinized for appropriateness for each unique patient situation. This approach, in combination with state-of-the art equipment and techniques, may help reduce the amount of blood needed for transfusions.

Methods utilized in blood conservation include:

  • Cell Saver System - A sophisticated system that carefully conserves and allows for the re-infusion of blood that might otherwise be lost during surgery.
  • Synthetic Erythropoietin - A hormone that stimulates bone marrow to increase production of red blood cells.
  • Electrocautery/Coagulator - (Argon Beam Coagulator, Gyrus and Harmonic Scalpel) - Limits internal bleeding during surgery.
  • Meticulous Surgical Techniques - During surgery painstaking attention is paid to minimizing blood loss at all times.
  • MicroSampling - Very small amounts of blood are taken for testing, rather than the larger quantities routinely drawn.
  • Pulse Oximeter - A non-invasive device that tracks blood oxygen levels this helps to decrease the need for frequent arterial blood gases that require a blood draw.
  • Use of Additional Hematopoietic (blood cell production) Therapies - Restores blood levels with applications such as iron, folic acid and ascorbic acid to facilitate iron absorption and stimulate the production of red blood cells.

Can my condition be treated with blood conservation methods?

Blood conservation techniques can potentially be applied to all medical and surgical specialties offered at St. Joseph's/Candler. If your doctor believes the patient is at risk for a blood transfusion before or during surgery he will evaluate your condition and discuss with our Blood Conservation Program Coordinator the best blood conservation technique that should be applied to you. Please note that at no time will blood be denied to the patient if needed. However, a patient can sign a waiver to not receive blood at any time during their care. The Blood Conservation Program just offers an alternative to blood transfusion if the patient is a good candidate.

  • St. Joseph's Hospital Campus: 11705 Mercy Blvd., Savannah, GA 31419, (p) 912-819-4100
  • Candler Hospital Campus: 5353 Reynolds St., Savannah, GA 31405, (p) 912-819-6000
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St.Joseph's Hospital Campus: 912-819-4100

Candler Hospital Campus: 912-819-6000