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As a Jehovah's Witness, Ramirez would not accept donated blood and pleaded with her doctors to perform the surgery she needed without blood transfusions. She spent a month in the hospital suffering excruciating pain.
"Every day the doctors would tell me that it was the surgery their way or my life," said Ramirez, a postal worker before the accident. "They were waiting for me to die but, miraculously, I didn't."
Devastated by the surgeons' repeated insistence on surgery with blood transfusions, Ramirez decided to get that second opinion herself at a different facility: Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center.
Ramirez met Jorge Martinez, manager of the Bloodless Medicine and Surgery Center at Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center, who helped put her in contact with Dr. Harbinder Chadha, a Sharp-affiliated orthopedic surgeon with extensive experience in bloodless surgery.
"After eight minutes, Dr. Chadha told me he could do the surgery the way I wanted," said Ramirez. "I'll never forget the tears of happiness that came down my face."
The Bloodless Medicine and Surgery Center at Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center relies on a number of tools and techniques to perform complex surgical procedures without transfusions.
Since 2003, 60 highly skilled physicians representing 16 specialties — including cardiology, orthopedics, gynecology, neurology and obstetrics — have used tools such as cell saver machines, electrocautery and volume expanders to help more than 1,400 patients achieve surgical success without the use of blood transfusions.
Ramirez had her surgery at Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center in January 2008, and even though she once thought she would never walk again, extensive physical therapy received in and out of the hospital has helped her get back on her feet.
“I’d say I’m about 60 percent compared to what I was before the accident, but considering I thought I’d be closer to 0 percent, I think I’m doing well,” said Ramirez of her recovery. “This surgery gave me my life and my inner smile back and that is priceless — believe me.”