A woman walks into a hospital in critical condition. She has a distended stomach and looks pale. She has just suffered a raptured ectopic pregnancy. And she needs blood. Fast. But she has blood group O negative, a rare type. Soon, the medical attendant rushes over, a gadget in hand, and moments later, has a bag of blood in the other hand, salvaged from the writhing woman. It is transfused back to her. And she is now proclaimed to be in stable condition. Disaster averted. ?
If you have been reading the news lately, you know there is a shortage of blood in the national blood bank. And week in week out, appeals by desperate relatives are made on social media for blood donations to their kin.
Enter hemafuse, the newest kid on the block that could be the solution to all these problems.
Hemafuse is a 400ml device that filters and pumps blood from internal hemorrhages into a special blood bag, allowing it to be re-transfused to the same patient. The specialised design of the filter removes clots and impurities. It provides an alternative to donor blood. The device does not require any electricity and can be reused up to 25 times, thanks to replaceable filters.
Currently, reuse seems to have only been approved in Ghana and Kenya though it does have to be sterilised between usage to prevent pathogens jumping between patients.
Auto transfusion V blood donation
Auto transfusion is a process where a patient’s own blood is used as an alternative to blood donated by someone else. It is especially used in emergency cases such as ectopic pregnancies or raptured internal organs like the spleen or liver. The gadget can also be used in cases where there is no donor blood available, and even as the preferred option over donor blood.
“When compared to auto transfusion, the use of donor blood comes with a higher risk of disease transfer, incorrect blood component transfused/incompatibility, handling and storage errors, acute transfusion reactions, among others,” says Elizabeth Wala of Amref Health Africa.
“The gadget also lowers post-operative infection rates, thus a patient gets shorter hospital stays when compared to patients who receive donated blood,” Dr Wala adds.
Introduction of the hemafuse to Kenyan hospitals has saved many a lives in the rural areas where there is a high shortage of donor blood, thanks to poor infrastructure. It has cut down on deaths due to internal bleeding.