A Northern clinical research professor is changing international hospital practices in the blood work field.
Menzies Institute hematologist Alhossain Khalafallah and his team first began looking at iron deficiency in 2006, researching anemia in pregnant women, and then looking at post-operative anaemia.
Their research has resulted in 50 clinical trials involving hospital patients from the North, and more than 40 research papers in the past eight years, culminating in a second recent publication in The Lancet, a prestigious international medical journal.
For the latest publication, Professor Khalafallah worked with international experts to develop a new approach for hospitals to follow in the treatment of anaemia and iron deficiency post surgery, and he convinced the group that his teams’ was the best approach to adopt.
The first iron deficiency research began when he noticed high numbers of pregnant women with anaemia during late-stage pregnancy, which resulted in “unnecessary” blood transfusions after delivery.
The study found that women who received intravenous iron in the first trimester were less likely to get postnatal depression, feel less downhearted, have improved general health and breastfeed for longer.
Professor Khalafallah said he then moved to the issue of anaemia after surgery.
He said standard practice was to optimise iron levels in the patient’s blood four weeks prior to surgery, but many patients did not come back for optimisation, leading to post-operative anaemia.
His idea was to offer intravenous iron drips after surgery, resulting in reduced hospital stays, less blood transfusions and less infections.
He said the international experts liked their pragmatic, post-operative approach.
“We are a great team. We attracted the attention of the world and it is a credit to UTAS, the students, the Launceston General Hospital and to Tasmania. We can influence medical practice and improve patient outcomes with simple research, and we have the capability to do it here, in Tasmania.”