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Transfusion support and alternatives for Jehovah's Witness patients

Crowe, Elizabeth P.; DeSimone, Robert A.

doi: 10.1097/MOH.0000000000000535

Purpose of review Jehovah's Witness patients with critical anemia or undergoing major surgery are challenging for healthcare providers to manage, as most will decline transfusion of whole blood and its main components. Recent advances in our understanding of hemostatic agents, alternative hemoglobin-based oxygen carriers, and patient blood management have culminated in a complex array of options to manage critical anemia and bleeding in this patient population.

Recent findings Refusal of blood products in the setting of critical anemia is associated with significant risk of morbidity and mortality. With implementation of patient blood management measures, targeted treatment of anemia and coagulopathy has reduced the need for transfusions. Likewise, increased clinical experience with hemoglobin-based oxygen carriers in Jehovah's Witnesses with critical anemia has provided new insights into their potential benefits and pitfalls.

Summary Options and alternatives to manage the Jehovah's Witness patient in the perioperative setting or in the setting of critical anemia will be reviewed.

Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, New York-Presbyterian Hospital, Weill Cornell Medicine, New York, New York, USA

Correspondence to Robert A. DeSimone, MD, Transfusion Medicine and Cellular Therapy, Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Weill Cornell Medicine, 525 East 68th Street, Room M-09, New York, NY 10065, USA. Tel: +1 212 746 6768; fax: +1 212 746 8435; e-mail:

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