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In Pictures: How doctors are using a simple test in surgery to save blood – and money

The pilot project at Toronto’s Peter Munk Cardiac Centre will soon be expanded to a dozen other Canadian hospitals – part of a movement to stem a looming shortage of blood products

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Dr. Vivek Rao, Chief, Division of Cardiovascular Surgery with the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre, prepares an aortic valve replacement during open heart surgery on a sixty nine year old Michael Joseph Towns on April 10 2014. The patient was having an aortic valve replaced during the 3 + hour operation.

Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail

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Surgeons pack Mr. Towns’s heart with two sponges after his heart is restarted and he is taken off the heart-lung machine. Surgeons then wait five minutes in order to measure just how much he is bleeding.

Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail

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The two sponges are placed on a scale after the five minutes elapses. They weighed 83 grams, which is greater than the cutoff that indicates a patient could bleed more than expected. The surgeons wait a few more minutes and Mr. Towns stops bleeding on his own. No transfusion is required.

Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail

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Toward the end of surgery, a sample blood is taken to a lab to determine how quickly clotting will begin. In the case of Mr. Towns, it was determined that he would probably not require a transfusion of any kind.

Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail

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