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Blood-saving surgery

A Seattle hospital practices blood conservation during surgery, returning a patient's own blood rather than using a transfusion.

A surgical team performs a minimally invasive mitral valve replacement at Swedish Medical Center on Wednesday, Aug. 4, in Seattle. Blood lost by the patient during surgery is held in the cell-saver reservoir below. Instead of being discarded, the blood will be cleaned and returned to the patient. This practice of conserving the patient's own blood and minimizing transfusions reduces infection and illness and improves recovery.

John Brecher / msnbc.com

Blood leaves the cell saver reservoir and enters the yellow machine at bottom, where it's spun through centrifuges to separate wastes from red blood cells.

John Brecher / msnbc.com

Blood begins to make its way through the tubing as the machine runs.

John Brecher / msnbc.com

Waste products from the blood collect in the bag at bottom left. In the middle of the screen is the emptying cell saver reservoir, and at top is the cleaned, concentrated blood, which is darker in color.

John Brecher / msnbc.com

The cleaned and concentrated red blood cells are collected here before returning to the patient.

John Brecher / msnbc.com