Your blood can now save you from brink of death

Friday, December 4th, 2020 00:00 |
Dr Deogracious Maero from Kenyatta National Hospital (centre), Tim Goodwin, Sisu Global Senior Product and Training Specialist (left) and Anthony Masika from Amref demonstrate how the Hemafuse device operates. Photo/PD/Bernard Gitau

Benard Gitau @benagitau

In a medical emergency, the availability of blood could make a difference between life and death.

For pregnant mothers who bleed profusely due to ectopic pregnancy complication or patients with ruptured spleen or liver, the loss of too much blood due to internal bleeding, transfusion is usually the best option to save a life.

Now,  a life-saving surgical auto-transfusion device is proving to be a game-changer by giving doctors a chance to save patients lives using their own blood.

Dr Deogracious Maero, a resident Doctor at Kenyatta National Hospital the hemafuse device is revolutionising blood access in Kenya by salvaging blood from patients suffering from internal bleeding resulting from trauma and ruptured ectopic pregnancies.

Recycled blood

“Hemafuse is designed to salvage and recycle whole blood from cases of internal bleeding,” he said. 

Developed by Sisu Global Health and in partnership with Amref Health Africa in Kenya, Hemafuse filters and pumps blood from internal haemorrhage into a blood bag, allowing it to be re-transfused to the same patient. 

The Hemafuse system resembles a huge syringe and consists a pump and filter accessory kit, which features both an outlet port and a suction connector.

The suction connector  pulls blood from a surgical patient, while the outlet port empties it into a blood bag, taking around five to eight minutes to fill.

 When the handle is pulled up, blood is pulled through a filter, which removes clots and particulates.

The blood is then pushed through tubing into the blood bag to be transfused to the same patient.

“The device can be used in both emergencies and scheduled procedures to recover blood from where it pools inside of a patient, into a blood bag, where it is immediately available to be re-transfused back to that same patient,” he said.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), severe bleeding during birth is the leading cause of maternal deaths, accounting for a third of them in sub-Saharan Africa.

Dr Maero said in a country where blood deficit is almost 80 per cent, the device is timely and needs to be rolled out across the hospitals to save lives.

According to the Ministry of Health, every 10 minutes, seven out of patients are usually in dire need of blood transfusion.

Their access to blood remains a challenge because only 170,000 pints were available in 2019 compared to 1 million country’s requirement annually.

With Covid-19, blood shortage in the country is becoming a nightmare due to social distancing guidelines by the Ministry of Health to avoid the spread of the disease and also people fearing to visit health facilities, especially blood transfusion centres.

 According to Peter Waiganjo from AMREF Health Africa in Kenya, the device is projected to save at least 100,000 pints of blood annually.

“This means we are going to cut the deficit of blood in our blood banks and also save lives,” he said.

Tim Goodwin, Senior Product and Training Specialist said the device is available in Kenya and Ghana.

“Hemafuse is now used in over 10 different hospitals across Kenya. Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital, Kakuma Mission, KNH and Mama Lucy Hospital,” he said. 

At least 25 patients use the device before it is disposed off. However, some of its accessories cannot be recycled.

“The Kenya Pharmacy and Poison Board has approved Hemafuse and it is ISO Certified.

Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (Kemsa) has the devices in their warehouses for counties to purchase,” he said.

Dr Maero said Hemafuse can be used in cases where there is no donor blood available, and even as the preferred option over donor blood. 

“When compared to auto-transfusion, the use of donor blood comes with a higher risk of disease transfer, increased length of stay, readmissions, and other complications,” he said.

The device cuts down on cost, the time it takes to save the patient, and reduces their recovery time.

More on News