On this day 58 years ago (May 16, 1962) Dr Denton Cooley, the Father of modern Bloodless Surgery carried out his first open heart surgery without blood transfusion on one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Dr Cooley demonstrated with his pioneering work that the “impossible” was possible – and associated with a better outcome.
Evidence-based medicine has since established that blood transfusion is associated with worse outcomes, along with hazards of transfusion including transmission of infections, and violation of patients’ rights. Transfusion avoidance, or Bloodless Care, on the other hand is associated with improved outcomes, avoidance of hazards of blood transfusion, and respect for patients’ rights – including patients who do not object to blood transfusion but are entitled to improved outcomes.
The World Health Organization describes transfusion alternatives as “simple, safer, equally effective, and less expensive” compared to blood transfusion (The Clinical Use of Blood, WHO 2002). Modern ethical practice of medicine requires the knowledge and application of blood conservation techniques and avoidance of blood transfusion for all patients. What better day to remind ourselves of this urgent need and this better option than today – the World Bloodless Surgery Day!