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Transpl Int. 2005 Aug;18(8):929-36.

Liver transplantation in Jehovah's witnesses.

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  • 1Department of Abdominal Surgery and Transplantation, University of Liège, Liège, Belgium.


For religious reasons, Jehovah's witnesses refuse transfusion of blood products (red cells, platelets, plasma), but may accept organ transplantation. The authors developed a multidisciplinary protocol for liver transplantation in Jehovah's witnesses. In a 6-year period, nine Jehovah's witness patients were listed for liver transplantation. They received preoperative erythropoietin therapy, with iron and folic acid that allowed significant haematocrit increase. Two patients underwent partial spleen embolization to increase platelet count. Seven patients underwent cadaveric whole liver transplantation, and two right lobe living-related liver transplantation, using continuous circuit cell saving system and high dose aprotinin. No patient received any blood product during the surgical procedure. One patient suffering from deep anaemia after living-related liver transplantation was transfused as required by his family, but died from aspergillus infection. One 6-year-old child was transfused against her parent's will. The authors demonstrated that it is possible to increase haematocrit and platelet levels in cirrhotic patients awaiting liver transplantation. They were able to reduce intraoperative need for blood products, allowing liver transplantation in prepared Jehovah's witness patients. This experience may be beneficial for non-Jehovah's witness liver transplant recipients.

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