Anyone who has ever watched a television show or movie set in a surgery unit knows that cutting people open tends to cause a loss of a lot of blood, which gets replenished through transfusions. Unfortunately, blood for a transfusion isn’t always available, especially in emergency situations or in some third world countries. To address the problem, researchers at Scotland’s, University of Strathclyde have built a device, they call the HemoSep, reports Popular Science, that allows for the capture of spilled blood, cleaning it and returning it to the patient, obviating the need for a transfusion. The team has announced that after dozens of test trials, the device has passed certification in England and Canada. Wired says the device is extremely compact, making it easy to transport to virtually any locale.
Collecting spilled blood isn’t as simple as draining it into a bucket and pumping it back into a body, because it coagulates upon contact with the air and picks up particles in the air. That makes it harder to collect and impossible to pump back into the body because it would clot up veins and arteries and cause infections. To get around such problems, PopSci says, the team used several different devices to handle each part of the process. To collect the blood, the team developed a special type of sponge that pulls blood from flat surfaces such as the table the patient is laying on. Next, a device was used to extract the blood from the sponge without damaging the red and white blood cells. After that, a special liquid is added that de-coagulates the blood and then another device spins the blood and separates out the useable parts from those that must be discarded. After that, what remains of the blood is pumped either into a transfusion bag, or directly into the patient.
Before being certified, the HemoSep passed one hundred clinical trials (at a hospital in Ankara, Turkey), where it was put to the test in both normal and abnormal conditions. Most specifically, it was tested during heart surgery, as that is where the most need for such a device exists. Over the course of the trials, surgeons reported that using the device reduced the need for transfusions during surgery dramatically.
Now that it’s passed clinical trials, the device will begin to be used first in hospitals in Scotland, then others in Europe and Canada. The team has also already scheduled new trials to allow for the HemoSep to be used in surgeries on children.