Surgeons save woman’s life by draining every drop of blood from body
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Surgeons saved a woman's life by draining every drop of blood from her body in a ground-breaking vampire-style op.
Medics cooled down Shelly Rowley's body to 20C – almost half the normal temperature – to prevent damage to her vital organs including the brain.
Then they sucked out all her blood.
Doctors then had just 20 minutes at a time to remove clots which had formed in arteries inside her lungs before blood had to be recirculated to keep her alive.
The extraordinary procedure – called a pulmonary endarterectomy – was carried out at Royal Papworth Hospital in Cambridgeshire.
It is the only UK centre with surgeons trained to carry out the op to cure chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension when blood clots build up and cause scar-like tissue that clog up blood vessels in the lungs forcing the heart to pump harder.
Shelly, 55, who was so breathless she could not exercise, has made a full recovery and now walks dog Rambo.
She admitted she was 'very nervous' before the surgery which was brought forward so she could start treatment for unrelated breast cancer.
Pup who had been feeling unwell had 25 golf balls in stomach and survived
But she is now well enough to feature in BBC2 documentary series At The Edge Of Life.
David Jenkins, who performed the op, said: "The remarkable thing about this surgery is the need to drain all the blood out of the body to allow the surgeon to see enough to clear the clots.
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"This can only be achieved by cooling the patient’s body to 20C Celsius – almost half of normal body temperature – to prevent damage to vital organs, including the brain.
"The hardest bit of the operation is developing the correct dissection layer in the thin pulmonary artery branches – too deep and they could perforate, too shallow and not enough material will be cleared to make the operation successful.''
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