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Blood Transfusion Refusal Poses No Risk in Cardiac Patients

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, August 15, 2012

Patients who profess the faith of Jehovah's Witness have always presented a vexing problem for hospitals when they've required surgery. Because their religion prohibits them from taking blood, they believe they must always decline transfusions, even if their refusal results in their death.

But a report on Jehovah's Witness members who underwent seven types of cardiac surgery at the Cleveland Clinic indicates that with pre-operative blood conservation strategies, the patients did not have more complications than patients who were not Jehovah's Witnesses and did receive transfusions.

"What we showed is that by comparing a group of Jehovah's Witness patients to a group of patients who were transfused, the Jehovah's Witness group seemed to do no worse, and under certain criteria actually did better, than patients who were transfused," says Gregory Pattakos, MD, one of the researchers. The article was published Monday in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

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3 comments on "Transfusion Refusal Poses No Risk in Cardiac Patients"


Danny Haszard (8/16/2012 at 12:55 PM)
Jehovah's Witnesses blood transfusion confusion Many Jehovahs Witnesses do take blood products now in 2012. They take all fractions of blood.This includes hemoglobin, albumin, clotting factors, cryosupernatant and cryo-poor too, and many, many, others. If one adds up all the blood fractions the JWs takes, it equals a whole unit of blood. Any, many of these fractions are made from thousands upon thousands of units of donated blood. Jehovah's Witnesses can take Bovine *cows blood* as long as it is euphemistically called synthetic Hemopure. Jehovah's Witnesses now accept every fraction of blood except the membrane of the red blood cell. JWs now accept blood transfusions. The fact that the JW blood issue is so unclear is downright dangerous in the emergency room. [INVALID] Danny Haszard

Chuck Carroll (8/16/2012 at 10:38 AM)
The basis for our beliefs can be found at Acts 21:25. That council sent their decision to all congregations: Christians need not keep the code given to Moses, but it is "necessary" for them to "keep abstaining from things sacrificed to idols and from blood and from things strangled [unbled meat] and from fornication." (Acts 15:22-29) The apostles were not presenting a mere ritual or dietary ordinance. The decree set out fundamental ethical norms, which early Christians complied with. About a decade later they acknowledged that they should still "keep themselves from what is sacrificed to idols as well as from blood . . . and from fornication."[INVALID]Acts 21:25. The facts show that the issue of incompatibility goes far beyond the relatively few blood types that hospitals seek to match. Why? Well, in his article "Blood Transfusion: Uses, Abuses, and Hazards," Dr. Douglas H. Posey, Jr., writes: "Nearly 30 years ago Sampson described blood transfusion as a relatively dangerous procedure . . . [Since then] at least 400 additional red cell antigens have been identified and characterized. There is no doubt the number will continue to increase because the red cell membrane is enormously complex."[INVALID]Journal of the National Medical Association, July 1989. Another primary task of your immune system is to defend against infection. So it is understandable that some studies show that patients receiving blood are more prone to infection. Dr. P. I. Tartter did a study of colorectal surgery. Of patients given transfusions, 25 percent developed infections, compared with 4 percent of those who received no transfusions. He reports: "Blood transfusions were associated with infectious complications when given pre-, intra-, or postoperatively . . . The risk of postoperative infection increased progressively with the number of units of blood given." (The British Journal of Surgery, August 1988) Those attending a 1989 meeting of the American Association of Blood Banks learned this: Whereas 23 percent of those who received donor blood during hip-replacement surgery developed infections, those given no blood had no infections at all. I could go on and on showing that blood transfusions are not only unsafe but more and more hospitals are getting away from using blood. Why even the military recognizes this because they want to be shown how to use this bloodless technique. But in the end our stand is based on Bible principles.

Patrick Sullivan (8/15/2012 at 11:23 AM)
This is misleading to imply that there is NO RISK refusing blood transfusions which is how the WBTS will spin it. Read the article it's only elective surgery for patients who are not in ER bleeding to death and in a modern hospital that has all the latest blood conservation gadgets. Jehovah's Witnesses believe that life is sacred to God therefore blood is sacred because it represents and symbolizes life. Jehovah's Witnesses put a higher value on blood than they do life. Which is more sacred? The symbol or that which it symbolizes?