Cornwall hospital research into labour cell salvage
Research into the effectiveness of capturing blood and returning it to mothers during child birth will be conducted in Cornwall.
Those undergoing caesarean sections at the Royal Cornwall Hospital (RCH) are offered cell salvage, where blood is cleaned and returned, routinely.
But the research will look into whether it can be used in normal births, which do not take place in sterile theatres.
RCH in Truro has secured £50,000 for the research.'Bacterial contamination'
The National Institute of Academic Anaesthesia has provided the money for the research which involves collecting lost blood, cleaning and retuning it to the mother using a process which takes about five minutes.
Consultant anaesthetist Dr Catherine Ralph, who is leading the project, said: "Currently this is only an opportunity for women that are having a caesarean section and that is currently less than 20%.
"We're seeing if we can actually capture the blood and then we're going to collect it into a sterile container and process it as we would do blood collected in a sterile operation."
Dr Ralph said the first phase of the research would involve capturing blood with suction equipment and analysing it to see if it was of "comparable quality" to that collected in a sterile environment or if there was "bacterial contamination".
RCH said only a small number of women having normal deliveries suffered blood loss but they were currently denied the technique.
Consultant Obstetrician, Rob Holmes, said: "There are lots of reasons for avoiding giving other people's blood.
"There are safety issues, it is in short supply, there are cost issues, and what can be better than having your own blood back where there are no other compatibility issues."
RCH said it would start analysing blood by the end of the year but added it could be a couple of years before any findings are reported.