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Pediatric Bloodless Cardiac Surgery Program

US News - Stanford Children's Health

When needed, donated blood can be a lifesaver. But a growing number of studies* show that young surgery patients who are able to forgo use of donated blood products do better on several fronts:

  • Bloodless surgery patients are more resistant to infection.
  • They are less likely to experience adverse immune responses.
  • These young surgery patients spend less time recovering.

*These studies do not apply to newborns.

To take best advantage of this insight, the Bloodless Cardiac Surgery Program at the Betty Irene Moore Children’s Heart Center is perfecting technologies and techniques that help our youngest heart surgery patients thrive. When we can help patients avoid the unnecessary use of blood products, it is better for a child’s health, better for the emergency blood reserves, and better for controlling health care costs.

If you are pregnant with a child who will need surgery and are exploring bloodless surgery options, a physician from the fetal cardiology program and from the Bloodless Cardiac Surgery Program is happy to advise you about your unique situation.

What to expect

In the weeks leading up to a scheduled surgery, cardiologists can bolster a child’s blood with iron supplements and medications and preserve red blood cell levels by minimizing the blood drawn for lab tests. During an operation, special steps are taken and special equipment is used to minimize loss of a child’s own blood. By carefully managing fluids and again optimizing blood draws after surgery, blood loss can be quickly recovered.

It’s important to know that while we may be able to perform surgery safely and effectively without transfusions on our young patients, some of these children may need a blood transfusion at some point in their recovery to ensure the best possible outcomes.

Respect and sensitivity to beliefs

We understand that some people want to avoid techniques that require blood transfusions for religious reasons or personal conviction, and our Bloodless Cardiac Surgery Program team takes every step to honor this choice. We have found that many families are happy to have found a care partner in us that respects their wishes for a bloodless hospitalization wholeheartedly.

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