NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 18 – Did you know you can donate blood to yourself? Yes, you can.
A newly unveiled devise now makes it possible for doctors to reuse a patient’s blood recovered during a medical procedure as opposed to outsourcing blood units from a donor.
Known as autologous transfusion, the procedure can be done weeks before non-emergency surgery. The blood is stored until the operation.
Autologous transfusion is most often employed in surgery on bones, blood vessels, the urinary tract, and the heart, when the likelihood of transfusion is high.
Amref Health Africa in partnership with Sisu Global Health and Surgipharm on Tuesday introduced the HemafuseTM, an auto transfusion device that will be used in surgery and emergencies, providing an alternative to donor blood.
The device which is the first to be launched in the African continent and in Kenya will not only provide an opportunity for patients to donate blood to themselves, but also conserve national blood resources.
“There are many ways of doing that i.e. you can donate blood if you have a scheduled operation one month from the set to date, hence you can manage two units prior,” Dr Meshack Ndirangu, Amref Kenya Country Director, explained.
He noted the device will come in handy in saving expectant mothers who account for over 5000 deaths annually during pregnancy and childbirth.
More than 2000 of those who die is because of excessive bleeding before or after birth.
“Timely skilled care including blood transfusion where necessary is all that these women and their babies need for them to live. And that’s why we are here today because auto transfusion presents a great opportunity to provide people in need of blood with their own blood for transfusion.”
He further noted that blood access is critical to safe surgery.
“Standard surgical practices require two units of blood on-hand before surgery commences, but there is a severe shortage of blood in the country. Surgeries may be delayed or not performed due to a lack of blood, resulting in increased illness and death. This partnership will make use of an innovative solution that will ensure that patients with internal bleeding have a chance of survival,” said Ndirangu.
Ndirangu noted that the development comes at a time when the country is facing a chronic shortage of blood as the collection of blood has been plagued by the lack of funds for screening tools and human resource to collect and store blood.
This initiative comes in the wake of the recent move by the US President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief (PEPFAR) to stop its annual funding of Sh2 billion for blood collection and testing services in Kenya
“At the end of this month, Kenya will start feeling the brunt of shortage of blood following massive reduction in funding towards blood services, since a huge aspect of blood services is funded by donors,” Ndirangu explained.
Every ten minutes, there are at least seven Kenyans in need of blood to save their lives against an available supply of 170,000 blood units per year.
Compared to a globally recommended annual average of 1 million blood units, the country faces an acute shortage; a situation the Health Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki says requires concerted efforts to address.
Chief Operating Officer at Sisu Global Health Sajju Jain said the situation can be addressed by the HemafuseTM.
HemafuseTM, a product by Sisu Global Health, can filter and pump blood from an internal haemorrhage into a blood bag, allowing it to be re-transfused to the same patient.
The device can also be reused up to 25 times. This provides an alternative to donor blood.
“It is inspiring to see HemafuseTMused to save lives. With this partnership, we look forward to enabling thousands more clinicians to save more lives across the country. The work we are doing is incredibly important, and we are proud to have such a strong partnership with Amref and Surgipharm to provide access to blood across Kenya,” Jain said.
The device is currently in use in eight hospitals. They include the Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital, Kakamega Referral Hospital and Kiambu Level V Hospital.