AN Adelaide surgeon says patients have better surgical outcomes when operations take place without blood transfusions.
This lends medical weight to the spiritual beliefs of Jehovah's Witnesses.A recent study published this month of 322 Witnesses and 87,453 non-Witnesses who underwent cardiac surgery at Cleveland Clinic in the US found Witnesses were not at increased risk of surgical complications as a result of refusing blood transfusions.
They also had fewer acute complications and shorter hospital stays than patients who received transfusions.Adelaide University Professor of Surgery Guy Maddern said he did not doubt the findings and said most surgeons avoided administering blood transfusions to patients unless it was absolutely necessary."Blood transfusions have their own problems and these can ... interfere with recovery and even survival," Prof Maddern said.
"We do everything possible to avoid giving a transfusion because there is some evidence this compromises the immune system and their outcome is worse overall," he said."Current evidence suggests if we can avoid transfusions we get better outcomes."
Jehovah's Witnesses Hospital Information Services spokesman Peter Price said the anti-transfusion beliefs of Witnesses were based on the biblical account in Acts 15 in which believers are encouraged to abstain from blood.Last month the South Australian Supreme Court gave the Women's and Children's Hospital the right to administer a blood transfusion to a young Jehovah's Witness girl with leukaemia, at the request of doctors who feared she would die without it.
Mr Price said while he did not agree with the court's decision, he respected it, and said the girl and her family would be supported by other Witnesses because she had not voluntarily submitted to the transfusion."We are not anti-medical treatment, anti-hospitals or anti-doctors at all."We work very closely with them and appreciate their efforts," Mr Price said.