Local puff piece on blood needs responses

by Dogpatch 6 Replies latest jw friends

  • Dogpatch

    This was in our local paper today. Methinks the dubs are busy trying to counter all their negative publicity lately!


    Bloodless medicine goes with the flow
    By Lee Petersen

    The mind-set has changed when it comes to blood transfusions.

    Amid ongoing shortages and concerns about the health risks of blood transfusions, bloodless medicine and surgery is quietly gaining wide acceptance in the United States beyond its roots in one religious minority's philosophy.

    While supply and quality issues have certainly played a role, the idea has largely been moved by Jehovah's Witnesses, a Christian denomination that does not readily accept blood transfusions -- even with a patient's own blood.

    And as hospitals have started "bloodless" programs to cater to people trying to avoid transfusions for religious or nonreligious reasons, the medical community in general also has tried to rely less on the safety net of transfusions and moved more toward the philosophy of conserving blood.

    "There was a time 30 years ago, the idea of doing heart surgery without the option of transfusion was unthinkable," said Dr. James McPherson, associate director of cardiothoracic surgery at Centinela Freeman Regional Medical Center's Tommy Lasorda Heart Institute. "Certainly the culture has changed."

    Jose Bretones, manager of the Bloodless Medicine & Surgery Program at Centinela in Inglewood since 1999, said about 175 patients a month seek to participate in the program at Centinela. Most are Jehovah's Witnesses, but some are looking for blood-free hospitalization or surgery for secular, health reasons.

    Though the perception is that transfusions are usually done in the operating room, Bretones said most transfusions in a hospital are in the medical ward, for chronic anemia or other disorders.

    So Bretones looks at bloodless or transfusion-free care as a total hospital package and tries to instill the message among everyone working there, whether they are directly working in the transfusion-free program or not.

    For example, phlebotomists are trained to draw only the blood they need, to reduce the draining, vampirelike effect of repeated hospital tests. And new guidelines are used that allow a blood count to go lower before the blood bank is called.

    Overall, Bretones said, the use of transfusions since he's started has fallen by 30 percent.

    These days, it's not only transfusion-free patients with anemia who can be treated with iron and other methods to boost their blood counts more naturally.

    Blood conservation techniques, such as donor-directed programs, where a patient gives blood in advance of his own surgery, have spread throughout the medical community, and not just at centers with bloodless programs.

    In part, these changes have come about, Bretones said, because of efforts by the Jehovah's Witnesses community. That community comes from a biblical perspective, but also presents the health arguments as well.

    In surgery, McPherson said, "One thing that is important to note is that we don't give transfusions lightly, even in those who are not in the transfusion-free program."

    McPherson said the typical coronary artery bypass surgery is performed without transfusion.

    But with a formal transfusion-free program, he is routinely faced with doing major operations without having that option at all.

    Patients are educated and then selected based upon their desires and medical conditions. There are times when he feels it's too risky to do the procedure -- bypass, heart valve replacement or lung cancer surgery -- without the option of transfusions. Usually, in those cases, McPherson said, the patient decides against having the surgery.

    Another important part of the bloodless program is the education of the staff, McPherson said. "Nurses, respiratory therapists, technicians ... everyone who comes into contact with the patient has to recognize that they are transfusion-free patients."

    Finally, the operation has to be technically perfect to minimize the loss of blood, from the moment the first incision is made until the sutures are sewn, McPherson said.

    Though Bretones said he'd like to see the transfusion-free program used to an even greater extent by those who are doing it for nonreligious reasons, he said that's not that easy to do, considering the limits of HMO insurance coverage, which generally preassigns hospitals.

    "Our endeavor is to try to get it out to anyone who may benefit from it," Bretones said.

    Antibody resistance

    You don't have to be special to come down with this affliction.

    Local researchers found that the antibiotic-resistant staph bacteria that causes skin infections doesn't discriminate as once was thought: It doesn't just primarily strike jailbirds and drug users.

    That's an important finding, especially considering that a doctor treating your skin infection needs to know that it could be the antibiotic-resistant variety, even though you've stayed out of prison and away from drugs.

    Dr. Loren Miller and his colleagues at Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute near Torrance have been investigating the so-called "community-acquired methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus,"or CA-MRSA, bacteria for years, especially as it has gained notoriety in the Los Angeles region.

    One reason for the notoriety is that it can cause "necrotizing fasciitis," or flesh-eating bacteria.

    Also, notably, there have been outbreaks in the county jails of skin infections that originally were thought to be spider bites, but turned out to be CA-MRSA.

    Send comments to [email protected] or to Medical Notebook, Daily Breeze, 5215 Torrance Blvd., Torrance, CA 90503-4077.

  • Dogpatch

    MY RESPONSE: Dear Lee, In response to your article at: http://www.dailybreeze.com/today/articles/5733656.html?page=1&c=y While it is a wonderful thing that doctors can often do without blood transfusion, it is not fair to laud Jehovah's Witnesses, whose stance on blood is based on the interpretation of their leaders, which has changed considerably in the last few years. Once they forbade all forms of blood and even vaccinations, thinking that God would destroy them if they took it. Hardly the right reason to ban a lifesaving procedure that is a must in many cases, such as sudden loss of blood and as in the sextuplets born recently in Canada, where two have died and the rest had to be taken over by the state and given blood or they would have died, all because of this damnable doctrine. http://www.canada.com/topics/news/national/story.html?id=7898581a-570d-4018-943c-8a8135165b55&k=78961&p=1 Witnesses are often not even aware that NOW they are allowed to take blood factions of all kinds, but most are so afraid of being disfellowshipped or killed by Jehovah for taking blood that they would rather die, even if certain fractions are now allowed. Jehovah's Witnesses are no longer growing in most developed countries because of the internet and the information age; it is a dying religion based on highly unusual interpretations of the Bible. I know because I used to work at Watchtower headquarters for 6 years, as an elder and factory overseer, and I left it, not because I was kicked out, but because of the heavy-handed way the leadership treats the lives of its members. People need to know that just because an eccentric group pioneers certain treatments, it doesn't make them good guys. Sincerely, Randall Watters http://www.freeminds.org Free Minds, Inc. PO Box 3818 Manhattan Beach CA 90266

  • Junction-Guy

    Good job Randy, maybe i can write them from the perspective of a former 12 year old, who was almost intimidated by my Dad to refuse blood.

  • alamb

    My grandmother was a victim of the old blood policy. My letter's in the works.

  • rebel8

    Dear ____,

    As a person with a severe bleeding disorder and director of a bleeding disorder advocacy group, I know all too well the risks of using blood products. Thankfully, most of those risks are in the past, with the advent of new tests, strict screening processes, and effective pasteurization procedures.

    As a young child in the 1970s, one of my parents joined the Jehovah's Witness organization and forced me to follow their no blood rule. I am here to tell you their rule was never ever based upon known medical risks. Jehovah's Witnesses' prohibition of different kinds of medical care predates the AIDS crisis by a century; their no blood rule was instituted long before there was ever any knowledge about bloodborne pathogens. It is only now--hindsight being what it is--that the JWs are claiming they were right to refuse blood because of AIDS.

    Their no blood rule was totally based upon their religious beliefs and deep paranoias about authority figures such as doctors. I have chronicled many of their bizarre claims about medicine at: http://jwinfo.8m.com/brochures/brochure%20medical%20teachings.doc . Please read citations from their own literature making strange claims based on their longstanding beliefs that doctors are pawns of Satan.

    You may also wish to review a recent legal journal article on the topic of JWs and blood. It is clear that their literature printed many known fallacies, highly exaggerating and even mistating the medical risks associated with using blood products. The article is available at: http://ajwrb.org/whatsnew/church_state.shtml

    I enjoyed your article, but it is unfortunate that it gives way too much credit to JWs than they deserve.


    (Oh, sorry. I cannot sign my name because, despite not having participated in the JW religion for 20 years and telling the leaders I would never return, I would be excommunicated if I publicly criticized the JWs. My family already thinks I am possessed by demons because I don't go to their church, but they would be required to totally stop talking to me if I was excommunicated.)

    ---------------------- I will email this out now Randy. :)

  • sammielee24

    Although not as eloquent as y'all - my letter has been sent. sammieswife.

  • greendawn

    It's a typical manipulation tactic, they focus on some positive things in their approach and ignore the much greater negative elements of it. Eg if blood fractions were allowed earlier a lot of dead dubs would have been alive today.

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