A hospital trust in the South West is to conduct ground breaking research into reusing blood lost by mothers during birth.
The 12-month study at Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust is the first of its kind in the world. The trust’s blood conservation team will look at whether blood lost during a vaginal birth can be collected and test whether it would be safe to be re-infused.
As well as reducing pressure on blood stocks “cell salvage” – where a patient’s own blood is used in place of a transfusion – is safer, improves recovery times and allows patients to donate blood in future.
Cell salvage is widely used in other specialities. The trust already uses the technique in 90% of Caesarean sections it performs.
It offers to re-infuse blood even if the blood count is not low, as this can prevent women becoming anaemic in the days following the procedure.
Consultant anaesthetist Catherine Ralph has been awarded £50,100 by the National Institute of Academic Anaesthesia to carry out the research on its use in natural births.
She told Nursing Times the “expertise” of midwives in the unit would be essential for identifying women who might benefit. An adhesive drape around the perineum will be used to collect the lost blood, which will then be mechanically “cleaned”.
John Faulds, a nurse and blood conservation co-ordinator at the trust, said: “We are thrilled Cathy was successful in her grant bid… Cathy’s research is the first time that kind of study has been done.”