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September 19, 1977

Cardiovascular Surgery in Jehovah's WitnessesReport of 542 Operations Without Blood Transfusion

Author Affiliations

From the Division of Surgery of the Texas Heart Institute of St Luke's Episcopal and Texas Children's Hospitals, Houston

JAMA. 1977;238(12):1256-1258. doi:10.1001/jama.1977.03280130038011

Jehovah's Witnesses who require operation represent a challenge to the physician because of the patients' refusal to accept blood transfusion. We report a 20-year experience with a consecutive series of 542 Jehovah's Witness patients ranging in age from 1 day to 89 years who underwent operation. Early mortality (within 30 days after operation) was 9.4%. In 362 patients requiring temporary cardiopulmonary bypass, early mortality was 10.7%. Mortality was 13.5% among 126 patients who had single- or double-valve replacement. The only deaths among patients who had aortic valve replacement or repair of a ventricular septal defect occurred in those who had some serious complication before operation. Preoperative or postoperative anemia was a contributing factor in 12 deaths, and loss of blood was the direct cause of three deaths. Cardiovascular operations can be performed safely without blood transfusion.

(JAMA 238:1256-1258, 1977)