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New choices for patients: Transfusion-free medicine for Jehovah's Witnesses and transfusion-wary
Date:12/5/2007

PHILADELPHIAJehovahs Witness patients no longer have to die for want of blood, says Patricia Ford, MD, a hematologist/oncologist and Medical Director of the Center for Bloodless Medicine and Surgery at Pennsylvania Hospital, part of the PENN Medicine hospital network. Dr. Ford is one of the pioneers of bloodless surgery and has been teaching its technique to doctors around the world.

One technique a bloodless surgery can employ is called cell salvage in which blood lost during surgery is siphoned from the body, passed through a filter for cleaning and returned to the body. It can also be used by the physician during surgery to limit blood loss and to avoid the need for transfusion of blood from sources other than the patient.

Jehovahs Witness patients believe that accepting blood from a source other then themselves defies the scriptural teachings that their religion holds steadfast. Originally developed to meet the needs of the Jehovahs Witness community, bloodless surgery is transfusion-free and is acceptable to Jehovah Witness followers because they are being reinfused with their own blood. Bloodless surgery and medicine is a viable and life-saving option for these patients and those wary of the safety of the blood supply, and it is safe for a growing number of surgical and medical conditions, except for acute leukemia and traumatic injury.

Bloodless procedures have proven to be safer than blood transfusion because they help eliminate complications resulting from transfusions such as immunosuppression, infection, diseases from emerging pathogens for which our blood supply is not yet tested, said Dr. Ford. The hospital stay is also shorter for our bloodless patients, a cost savings for the patient and the institution, she continues. Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia is one of the pioneering centers for bloodless medicine and surgery.

Dr. Ford likens the weeks-old blood often used for transfusions to water from a
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Contact: Lee-Ann Landis
landisl@uphs.upenn.edu
215-829-8043
University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine
Source:Eurekalert

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