Mercedes D Life-Saving Alternative; The Power of Bloodless Medicine

“Everybody from the Emergency Room to the Operating Room worked so well together. They saved my life.”

As a coordinator of the Bloodless Medicine and Surgery Program at Cooperman Barnabas Medical Center (CBMC), Mercedes Dyson is used to talking to patients about how the program can help those who cannot accept a blood transfusion whether for religious, personal, or medical reasons.

Recently, Mercedes was on the other side as a patient, utilizing CBMC’s bloodless services for a planned surgical admission, but also an emergent visit involving minimum preplanning.

“After going through the program, myself, I empathize and relate to our patients even more. I tell them about my experience with the program, what to expect, and how it helped me. CBMC’s Bloodless Medicine and Surgery Program is a huge benefit, whether for elective or emergency procedures,” shares Mercedes.

Mercedes’ Elective Procedure
After dealing with fibroids causing immense pain for several years, Mercedes scheduled an appointment to discuss her options with Thad R. Denehy, MD, Section Chief of Gynecological Oncology at Cooperman Barnabas Medical Center. “He was very understanding about the pain I was in, listening to what I wanted, and creating a plan,” shares Mercedes. “I opted for a surgical intervention.”

“For a patient who doesn’t accept blood, it was dear to my heart and I was very comfortable in Dr. Denehy’s hands and knowing he would take care of me,” she shares.

“Bloodless surgery involves the use of advanced medical techniques that preserve the patient’s own blood and minimize blood loss in order to avoid the need for transfusion. A major aspect of this is patient preparation,” explains Bilal Khan, MD, Medical Director of the Blood Management Institute. “Before surgery, your doctor may provide you with a diet and medication regimen that will regulate blood and hemoglobin production.”

Before going in for her planned surgery, Mercedes received iron infusions at the Anemia Clinic to build up her blood count. During the procedure, Dr. Denehy used the cell-saver.

“Performing extensive operative procedures upon patients that decline blood transfusions is challenging and stressful to surgeons given the potential risks of serious perioperative complications,” shares Dr. Denehy. “The Blood Management Institute at Cooperman Barnabas Medical Center and other similar entities preoperatively maximize these patients’ red blood cell level and optimize their condition to minimize such risk, especially when partnered with the use of Cell Saver along with intraoperative medications to minimize blood loss.”

Mercedes’ Emergent Procedure
Her recovery was going well, when suddenly, at 3-weeks postop, Mercedes experienced an emergency and lost a significant amount of blood in a very short amount of time. She shares, “I was thinking that my body was fine and so I started moving around when I wasn’t healed properly leading me to hemorrhage.”

As she was rushed to the CBMC Emergency Department, she was in fear that she would not make it due to the amount of blood she was losing. Yet, when she arrived, she remembers immediately being put at ease by the Emergency Department team.

“The first thing nurses and doctors are trained to do when patients are losing blood is to give blood, but I can’t receive blood. The team I had made sure everybody knew and was already informed and aware of different bloodless options.”

Mercedes was able to get to the operating room in less than an hour. She recalls, “When I say that all hands were on deck, everybody – residents, nurses, doctors, techs – they all moved so quickly. The thought that I wasn’t going to make it moved out of my head. They were all working together to save my life.”

“There was one nurse who assisted me all the way through. The entire time I was just terrified and she made me feel so respected and at ease. My husband was holding my one hand, and I had a doctor holding the other. I had a lot of support around me.”

Mercedes also has immense gratitude for the Spiritual Care services provided at CBMC. With their help, she had a representative of her choosing that was with her at the hospital to visit and pray before the unplanned procedure.

After the prayer, Mercedes was off to Operating Room with Dr. Denehy. “I was worried, but Dr. Denehy was not worried. I was scared and terrified, and he was ready to help me,” shares Mercedes. “I can’t say enough about Dr. Denehy and his team.”

Bloodless Medicine and Transfusion Free Physician of the Year Award
For the past 15 years, Thad Denehy, MD, a gynecologic oncologist with CBMC, has demonstrated unwavering dedication in caring for patients that decline the use of blood transfusion. His compassion, experience and surgical expertise in managing medically complex surgical cases while respecting the patient’s right to refrain from the use of blood transfusion has gained him recognition as a preferred provider among this unique patient population.

In appreciation for his continued support and dedication to this unique patient population, Dr. Denehy was recently named the first recipient of the Bloodless Medicine and Transfusion-Free Physician of the Year Award.

“I am humbled and honored to be the first recipient of this award,” shares Dr. Denehy.

Our team respects every patient’s individual needs and preferences. We will ensure that every member of your care team is aware of your requirements so that they can plan treatment accordingly. Your safety is a priority for us, which is why we have developed state-of-the-art techniques that can provide you with the care you need without compromising your beliefs. Learn more about the Blood Management Institute.