Worldwide Reports

Supportive treatment of severe anaemia in a Jehovah’s Witness with severe trauma

Lorentzen K | Blood Transfus. |
Nykøbing Falster Hospital
Falster, Guldborgsund Municipality, Denmark

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Abstract

The refusal to receive a blood transfusion, even in a critical situation, can be a potentially fatal decision. This is where Jehovah’s Witnesses differ as patients. These patients do not, however, refuse all medical care, they only wish not to be given blood, a wish rooted in religious beliefs. The denomination of Jehovah’s Witnesses was founded as a Bible study group in the USA in 1869 by the American Charles Taze Russell. The number of members is growing; Denmark has about 14,000 Jehovah’s Witnesses, while there are over 7 million globally.

Jehovah’s Witnesses follow a strict interpretation of certain passages of the Bible, and the members are, among other things, forbidden from “consuming” blood (Genesis 9:3–4, Leviticus 17:10–11). If these directives are not followed, members face the risk of being ostracised or excommunicated, thereby losing their possibility of an eternal life.

Conventional wisdom holds that a certain low level of haemoglobin puts a patient at risk and, in the case of significant bleeding, this threshold can be reached quickly. The routine treatment in this circumstance is the transfusion of blood products. However, in the case of Jehovah’s Witnesses, alternative solutions must be sought.

This case report describes the successful treatment of a traumatised Jehovah’s witness with a very low haemoglobin concentration in the intensive care unit (ICU)

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