As I visited an organ transplant patient at a hospital, a doctor told me that there was no perfect treatment: Doctors compare risks of each treatment and choose the least risk treatment. Scientists are constantly seeking means to reduce such risks, but today I thought I glimpsed some result of their hard work.
I went to a conference on “ Surgical Advances for Better Outcomes” at Torrance Memorial Hospital and learned about risks of transfusion and transfusion-free surgery.
Surprisingly the risks of transfusion such as infections, deformation of blood cells, heat attack, stroke, cancer, death, etc are higher than it’s benefits, according to recent studies. Restrictive transfusion such as platelets or plasma, or your own blood transfusion, is less risky though, it sounds like the idea that transfusion saves lives is getting obsolete.
The new surgical treatments to minimize bleeding in order to avoid transfusion was developed because there were people like Jehovah’s Witnesses, who have strongly refused blood transfusion. The door of the new treatments was opened as doctors have respected their choice instead of mocking their belief.
During a panel discussion, someone asked a question; what if chemo knocks down blood cell counts and a patient needs more blood? A doctor answered that the chemo dose should be reduced or a different medicine should be used to increase blood cell counts, though he admitted it was a tough question.
Common sense will no longer be common sense. Indeed medicine is improving day by day.