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.