The Center for Bloodless Medicine and Surgery
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The Center for Bloodless Medicine and Surgery

Under the direction of Patricia Ford, MD and Michael Columbus, the Center for Bloodless Medicine and Surgery evaluates and treats many cancer patients without the use of blood products.

We are one of the only sites in the nation to successfully perform high dose chemotherapy with stem cell rescue using bloodless techniques. Dr. Ford performed the first successful stem cell transplant without blood in 1996.

It is important to know that cancer and some treatments for cancer may affect your blood counts. Radiation therapy and chemotherapy treatments, for example, attack rapidly dividing cancer cells. In the process, these treatments may also affect valuable cells in the bone marrow, where blood cells are created. The Abramson Cancer Center at Pennsylvania Hospital is dedicated to developing more effective treatments for all types of cancers and forging medical and scientific means of managing anemia and other blood disorders without the use of blood or blood products.

Bloodless Risk vs. Benefit
Our patients who have chosen to receive non-blood medical care have found that the benefits outweigh the risk of transfusion. A bloodless approach to treatment means:

  • Shorter than customary hospital stay in many cases
  • Reduced blood loss
  • No chance of blood contamination due to AIDS, hepatitis and other blood-borne viruses

Prior to treatment for cancer with surgery, chemotherapy or radiation therapy, the patient may undergo various interventions to stimulate the production of his or her own blood cells. These may include injections or intravenous infusions of hormones, iron and vitamins. The treatments may be given in a doctor's office or at home.

Most patients who elect bloodless medicine and surgery will be seen and followed by one of our hematologists to evaluate and monitor blood levels during the course of treatment. When a patient elects to be treated for cancer or other blood-related problems such as anemia, they will also be seen by a nurse, a social worker and a bloodless care coordinator who specialize in alternatives to transfusions.


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