heart surgery without blood for religious groups

Written by: Dra. María Belén Viñals Larruga
Edited by: Top Doctors®

Bloodless heart surgery is an increasingly common technique to avoid the use of blood and blood products. It is not only suitable for some religious groups who request it, such as Jehovah's Witnesses, but also prevents damage that can occur in patients during a blood transfusion such as transfusion reactions or spread of viral diseases.

Bloodless cardiac surgery: what it is

Cardiac surgery is a specialty in which, quite often, it requires the use of blood products. Some patients, however, as Jehovah's Witnesses reject the use of blood and blood products. This, for most centers offering heart surgery, is a major drawback when carrying out such interventions and, above all, to continue to provide the same results in terms of morbidity and mortality. This is a major challenge for health workers. Our expert team Cardiac Surgery has been performing heart surgery without blood, ie, avoiding blood transfusion and any blood and have excellent results comparable to those obtained in interventions in the general population.

Reasons for the emergence of cardiac surgery without blood

The need for heart surgery without blood is given by the increasingly frequent number of patients who, because of their religious circumstances, refuse blood transfusion and blood products, as the case mentioned above. The rejection of these patients blood transfusions comes from a strict interpretation of certain biblical passages ( "... only flesh with his soul blood should not eat"; Genesis 9: 3-4).This negative faces two fundamental goods as they are the principle of patient autonomy and the physician's duty to preserve the patient's life (right to life). It is a major challenge for the medical team both surgery and postoperative follow-up, which is the stage where it is more likely that complications may arise that require the use of blood products.


Bloodless cardiac surgery: a widespread practice?

It is a practice that is not as widespread, because most centers do not want to take the ethical responsibility of having to skip a fundamental measure to preserve the patient's life. There are now numerous strategies, both medical and surgical, to reduce transfusion requirements. We put into practice all of them to ensure good results. Our surgical team, which is reference in cardiac surgery without blood, has even perform surgery in these patients highly complex, as is the case of reoperations or surgery on the ascending aorta.


Cases referred for cardiac surgery without blood

The computer generally maintains always a tendency to minimize, insofar as possible, blood transfusion and blood products. This is done routinely in all operated cases, since it is well known that blood transfusion is not completely exempt from producing potential damage to the patient, such as transfusion reactions, spread of viral diseases (Hepatitis C, HIV) or syndrome multiple transfusions. For this reason we have very low transfusion rate in the affected population. Of course, it is a technique particularly suitable for Jehovah's Witness patients, who are increasingly numerous in our country. There are other cases where there are difficulties to be transfused, such as patients who have irregular antibodies against red blood cells and, in the case of receiving a blood transfusion, can present a serious complication, called hemolysis.

However, in general is the group of Jehovah's Witnesses who increasingly demand more this type of technique because they are very vulnerable to not find centers where you perform this type of surgery without restriction.


*Translated with Google translator. We apologize for any imperfection

By Dra. María Belén Viñals Larruga
Cardiovascular Disease

Dr. Viñals Larruga is a renowned specialist in cardiac surgery in the city of Valencia. With more than 30 years in the profession. In constant training, he has worked in numerous centers and hospitals of international prestige. Throughout his career he has combined his profession with teaching. Moreover, he has participated in numerous conferences and lectures on the specialty. Currently she holds vascular surgery service at the Hospital Virgen del Consuelo of Valencia.

*Translated with Google translator. We apologize for any imperfection

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