A technique called cell salvage is being used to reduce blood transfusions and improve patient outcomes across Cwm Taf, thanks to dedicated Operating Department Practitioners.
Lee Fyfe, who has been an ODP in Cwm Taf for 16 years, is the lead for the technique at Prince Charles Hospital and provides training in its use for other staff.
Cell salvage is a way of collecting the blood that is lost during, or just after an operation. There are two different types: intra-operative cell salvage (blood collected during an operation) and post-operative cell salvage (blood collected after an operation), when patients are back on the ward.
This machine separates the different parts of blood and collects just the red cells (which carry oxygen). These red cells can then be given back to patients during or just after their operation. The red cells will only ever be given to the patient and will never be used for someone else.
The benefits of cell salvage for the patient is that it reduces the chances of a blood transfusion, thereby reducing the very small risks associated with receiving blood.
Currently, there are six trained cell saver operators in Prince Charles Hospital, and it is anticipated that in the future all ODPs will be trained in cell salvage.
Other staff have been trained in “collection only” which enables the process to commence before a machine operator arrives, therefore, limiting the amount of wasted blood.
Both the Royal Glamorgan Hospital and Prince Charles Hospital were the beneficiaries of cell saver machines approximately 17 years ago by members of the Jehovah Witness community. Initially, the machines were used for those patients. However, as the result of an audit in PCH two years ago, the service was developed and new equipment obtained. The process is now used more widely in arterial, trauma and orthopaedics, obstetrics & gynaecology and emergency out of hours cases.
Lee has been involved in the development of a wireless data collection unit which will be trialled in PCH and Morriston Hospital and has also developed a suction irrigation kit to allow cell saver to be used in laparoscopic cases.
There are plans to develop the service further in more specialities which will benefit more patients in Cwm Taf.