Medical Services: Centers Of Excellence

The Institute for Patient Blood Management and Bloodless Medicine and Surgery at Englewood Hospital

Techniques: About Albumin, Blood Salvage, About Erythropoietin, About Hemoglobin-Based Oxygen Carriers (HBOCs), About Normovolemic Hemodilution

About Erythropoietin

Perhaps you've been scheduled for surgery, and during preparation your doctor discovers your blood count is low, or maybe you've just had surgery or been sick in the hospital and you've lost some blood. Hopefully, you and your physician have decided to try alternatives to blood transfusions. One thing that might be suggested is erythropoietin, with the brand name Procrit and Aranesp. What is it? Should you accept it?

Fortunately for us our bodies are equipped with many self-regulatory mechanisms. One of which is our kidneys. Our kidneys have the ability to sense the oxygen level in our blood. If the kidneys sense that the level is low, they produce a hormone called erythropoietin. This erythropoietin goes to the bone marrow, which is where most of our blood cells are manufactured, and Epo stimulates the marrow to make more cells. More cells means more oxygen to be carried all over the body.

Sometimes because of sickness, perhaps kidney failure, or certain medical treatments, like chemotherapy, the kidneys cannot do their job of producing erythropoietin. Or sometimes there is an unexpected blood loss, such as in surgery, and the kidneys need an extra boost to prepare for or make up the loss.

When erythropoietin was being engineered a very small amount, (0.01%), of albumin, a protein fractionated from plasma of donor blood, needed to be added to it for stabilization. Therefore, for those with religious objections to taking transfusions this is a conscience matter for each individual to decide upon. However erythropoietin has proved to be a very useful and effective tool in many patients' recovery.

The Medical Team at Englewood Hospital and Medical Center has been highly trained in the use of alternatives to transfusions, among them the use of erythropoietin. Because of new advancements in technology and the training and understanding about bloodless care, now patients can have their religious and personal convictions respected while receiving the best possible care.