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Blood Transfusion Refusal Poses No Risk in Cardiac Patients

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, August 15, 2012

Pattakos and his fellow researchers say they don't know why the Jehovah's Witness patients fared as well or even better than their patient counterparts who received transfusions. It may be that erythropoietin and other blood-conserving strategies—believed to carry their own risks of higher morbidity such as stroke—were really less dangerous than receiving donated blood.

"There is a growing trend and increased awareness now of the negative side effects of blood transfusions that in prior decades was not realized," Pattakos says.

"It would be interesting to study whether the majority of cardiac surgery patients would benefit from erythropoietin (before surgery) because we do not know that yet," he adds.

Pattakos emphasizes that a major flaw in the study is that the Jehovah's Witness patients did not all receive the same blood conservation strategies prior to and during surgery, so it is hard to tell whether some pre-operative efforts worked better than others.


Cheryl Clark is senior quality editor and California correspondent for HealthLeaders Media. She is a member of the Association of Health Care Journalists.
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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?