Bloodless Medicine | Tammy’s Story

My neck looked like
a bullfrog pumping. If you’ve ever seen like
a bullfrog with, and it’s throat pumps like that,
that’s what my neck looked like. All that blood was
regurgitating up there. These flowers are coming
out pretty, aren’t they? My name is Tammy. I live in Christiansburg,
Virginia. All my families, for the most
part, have been really healthy. I didn’t know I had
blood pressure problems.>>Tammy presented to us
with a large aortic aneurysm that you could see pulsating
in the base of her neck, right above her breastbone, and that’s a ballooning of
the artery in the chest. Her blood pressure, when she
presented, was 240 over 40. She had a leak in her
aortic valve in her heart. So, the one way valve was
allowing two-way blood flow.>>And I was like, this blood
pressure’s like really? How are you still alive? People couldn’t believe
you’re still alive with this blood pressure like that. We searched for
a place to go for six months. We found that Andrew Pippa
was the coordinator for the bloodless surgery program
there at Johns Hopkins.>>Tammy called us because
she couldn’t find a doctor or a hospital that would operate on
her without resorting to a blood transfusion.>>I did not want to do
a blood transfusion period. That’s one reason that bothered
me cuz they said it was such a bloody surgery. But with my religion being
a Jehovah’s Witness, I wasn’t gonna take any blood. That’s when they went down on
the operating table either.>>The fact that she took her
stand for no blood transfusion and the courage that she showed
was an inspiration to me.>>Our bloodless program is
designed to care for patients who wish to get therapy for
their illnesses or to undergo a surgery without receiving
transfused blood products. And so our role as a bloodless
program is to care for these patients to get them ready
for surgery when they need surgery to keep their
blood at a healthy level.>>Every time we
avoid a transfusion, we avoid potential
complications like hepatitis. There is an HIV, TACO and TRALI,
which are complications from blood transfusion
that can be fatal. Okay, so
this is a fresh blood sample. So by avoiding
unnecessary transfusions, we’re actually saving lives. And I haven’t met a patient yet that wouldn’t rather have their
own blood back, as opposed to someone else’s blood coming
from the blood bank.>>Nobody plans to
go to the hospital. It’s really a scary place to be. The fact that I can
make a patient feel more at ease is key to their
having a good outcome.>>We had to be very careful
with Tammy because we wanted to be sure that her level of blood,
the strength of her blood, was at a safe level for
her to get through the surgery.>>We did several things
special in the operating room. First, we did something called
ANH where we bank the patient’s own blood right before
the surgery begins. Then we use a medication called
Amicar that reduces bleeding during surgery. And third, we use a device
called a cell saver, which collects the blood the
patients lose during surgery, cleans it, processes it. Then we can give them back their
own blood before the end of the procedure. In Tammy’s case, without
the cell saver, I’m not sure we could have brought her through
the surgery successfully.>>As our bloodless program
has grown over the years, we’ve gained a lot of experience
and expertise in caring for these patients.>>By providing care to
Jehovah’s Witness patients, for example, we’re perfecting
methods of blood conservation that will benefit all patients.>>The compassionate nature of
this team, everybody on it, makes the patients feel special.>>I’m very grateful for
Johns Hopkins, for the bloodless surgery team. I made it. And did it without their blood.