How you can now ‘donate’ blood to yourself

Blood donation. Doctors can now use your blood to save your life. PHOTO | FOTOSEARCH | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Doctors can now use your blood to save your life. Patients with internal bleeding have a chance of survival after doctors launched a scientific device that enables a team of three surgeons to manually draw and filter clean blood from a patient and transfuse it back to their body.
Hemafuse, a product by Sisu Global Health, can filter, and pump blood from an internal bleeding into a blood bag, allowing it to be re-transfused to the same patient. It takes about eight minutes to acquire a unit of blood. The auto transfusion technology for surgical emergencies like ectopic pregnancies, ruptured spleen, and hip replacement among others is already in use in eight hospitals in Kenya.

The innovation is to increase access to blood in all hospitals across the 47 counties and reduce internal bleeding-related deaths. “Instead of scoop and sieve, auto transfusion is safer. Having your own blood is better than getting from a donor,” said Dr Meshack Ndirangu, a surgeon and Amref Health Africa Kenya director.
Dr Ndirangu said using one’s blood for transfusion did not involve taking other medication like antibiotics for those who receive blood from donors and there were no effects related to the body accepting the new blood.
Sieve and scoop had been used primitively by surgeons in Africa for hundreds of years. The process then involved skilfully removing blood from, say, the lower abdomen of a patient using a ladle like spoon — almost the size of a tea spoon — and sieving out the clot through cotton wool.

“It’s for surgeries where one has not been able to bank their own blood. 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 lack of blood, resulting in increased illness and death, he said.
He added that this could save about 5,000 lives, 2,000 of which were pregnancy related complications that required blood transfusion.
Kenya is the first country in Africa where the product is being launched. Hemafuse can recycle multiple units of blood and is reusable 25 times.