Nottingham company makes breakthrough with blood recycling device

Brightwake trials Hemosep blood-recycling device on Jehovah's Witness in first UK operation

A Nottingham company’s unique technology has been used in a ground-breaking procedure which is likely to have major benefits for patients worldwide.

Doctors in Nottingham have made history using Hemosep, a blood-recycling device developed by Brightwake based in Kirkby-in-Ashfield.

The device captures blood spilt during an operation, filters it and then returns it to the patient.

We are excited by its potential to help people whose particular religious beliefs mean that they cannot receive donated blood, even if they experience severe blood loss

This made Hemosep the ideal solution for 50-year-old Nottingham heart patient, Julie Penoyer. As a Jehovah’s Witness, she did not want to receive donated blood products.

The opportunity to use Hemosep for Mrs Penoyer arose during the machine’s first-ever UK trial, in which Nottingham University Hospitals (NUH) is participating.

Mrs Penoyer has now made a full recovery following major open-heart surgery, which would normally have required transfusions of up to seven units of blood.

Hemosep’s success presents new possibilities for patients across the globe whose religious beliefs mean that receiving donated blood is not an option.

Before the surgery Mrs Penoyer found it difficult to breathe, talk or exercise. She said: “Pretty much as soon as I woke up I noticed the difference. Two weeks after I was home I was eating normally again. People tell me they can’t believe I’ve recently had heart surgery.”

Hemosep was developed by Brightwake in collaboration with Professor Terry Gourlay of Strathclyde University. A key factor has been the company’s knowledge of textiles, which began in the 1980s making lacy trimmings and then elastic.

Brightwake used this expertise to invent filters with microscopic meshes. These make Hemosep the only machine in the world capable of salvaging tiny platelets which help blood to clot. Returning such cells to the body lowers the risk of bleeding after an operation.

The avoidance of post-operative complications and a reduced reliance on blood banks mean potentially-huge savings for the NHS - estimated at £10m a year. Patients also benefit because there is less chance of an adverse reaction to donated blood.

Patients who have transfusions are reported to have a longer stay in intensive care, compared to those who don’t

Brightwake’s managing director, Steve Cotton, said: “We are extremely proud of Hemosep and excited by its potential to help people whose particular religious beliefs mean that they cannot receive donated blood, even if they experience severe blood loss.”

Hemosep’s benefits have been welcomed by clinicians at Nottingham University Hospitals. Its deputy chief perfusionist in cardiac surgery, John Campbell, said: “It’s an extremely useful tool. By using it in this extreme case we have identified other potential areas where it could be used, such as obstetrics and major trauma.

“When donated blood is transfused, the body has to work to clean it and there is no immediate way of knowing the quality of the red cells or any potential side effects. If it’s your own blood there are none of those issues. Patients who have transfusions are reported to have a longer stay in intensive care, compared to those who don’t.”

Brightwake holds the world rights to Hemosep and it is marketing it under the company’s Advancis Surgical brand.

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