There is no substitute for blood. It is the fluid that carries oxygen and nutrients to our vital organs. Transfusions can play a critical role in the care of patients being treated for malignancies, during and after surgery, and in the care of acutely injured patients. They can be a life-saving intervention.
However, as medical science has progressed in recent years, we have learned more about the benefits and risks of blood transfusions. A blood transfusion has been described as a liquid organ transplant. So, a decision to transfuse should always involve consideration of the expected benefit and the potential risks.
Transfusion with blood donated by others carries the risk of infection from viruses and other adverse reactions. The ability to distinguish those patients who absolutely must receive blood products from those who can be managed with limited or no blood products is an important advance in improving the quality of care and a key feature of blood management.
In 2007, we began the Maine's first comprehensive Patient Blood Management Program. This is part of our effort to provide patients with the safest, highest quality of care. The Northern Light Blood Management Program has been recognized by national organizations such as the Society for the Advancement of Blood Management.