Cardiovascular surgery in Jehovah's Witnesses. Report of 542 operations without blood transfusion

JAMA. 1977 Sep 19;238(12):1256-8.


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.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anemia / etiology
  • Anemia / mortality
  • Blood Transfusion*
  • Cardiac Surgical Procedures*
  • Cardiopulmonary Bypass / mortality
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Coronary Artery Bypass / mortality
  • Heart Defects, Congenital / surgery
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Middle Aged
  • Postoperative Complications / mortality
  • Religion and Medicine*
  • Surgical Procedures, Operative / mortality
  • United States
  • Vascular Surgical Procedures*