Responses by Pregnant Jehovah's Witnesses on Health Care Proxies

Gyamfi, Cynthia MD*; Berkowitz, Richard L. MD†

Obstetrics & Gynecology:
doi: 10.1097/01.AOG.0000135276.25886.8e
Original Research
Abstract

OBJECTIVE: To review the treatment options presented on the New York State Health Care Proxy for Jehovah's Witnesses, which is signed by pregnant women when they present for care.

METHODS: Chart reviews were performed for all women who presented to labor and delivery at our institution from 1997 to 2002 and identified themselves as Jehovah's Witnesses. A patient was included in the study if a completed health care proxy was available in her chart. Data were derived from the health care proxy and from the Mount Sinai School of Medicine's Blood Product Checklist for Jehovah's Witness Patients. Variables of interest included age, race, parity, and antenatal and perinatal complications.

RESULTS: A total of 61 patients were identified. Of these, 39.3% agreed to accept a variety of donated blood products, 9.8% would accept donated packed red blood cells, and 50.1% would accept neither from a homologous donor. With respect to nonstored autologous blood, 55% of respondents would accept either intraoperative normovolemic hemodilution or transfusion of their own blood obtained by a cell salvage system. No significant differences in responses were noted for any of the above-mentioned variables.

CONCLUSION: This review refutes the commonly held belief that all Jehovah's Witnesses refuse to accept blood or any of its products. In this population of pregnant women, the majority were willing to accept some form of blood or blood products. This information can be used to help health care providers counsel a patient when she is initially faced with considering these issues and may help to remove the stigma of accepting one of the options.

LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: III

In Brief

Jehovah's Witnesses have a diverse group of opinions about whether to accept blood or blood products from a variety of sources.

Author Information

From the *Division of Maternal–Fetal Medicine, Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, New York; and the †Division of Maternal–Fetal Medicine, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Columbia University, New York, New York.

Address reprint requests to: Cynthia Gyamfi, MD, Division of Maternal–Fetal Medicine, Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences, The Mount Sinai Medical Center, 5 East 98th Street, Box 1171, New York, NY 10029; e-mail: cynthia.gyamfi@mssm.edu.

Received February 27, 2004. Received in revised form May 14, 2004. Accepted May 21, 2004.

© 2004 The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists