SEATTLE, Aug. 17, 2010 — As a doctor and a patient, Dale Reisner knows the value of donated blood. But when the Seattle obstetrician had to have heart surgery four years ago, she did everything possible not to get a single drop.
“I don’t have any religious problems with it. If I was near death, I definitely would have taken blood, no question,” said Reisner, who is fine now at age 62. “But if I could avoid a transfusion by better pre-op preparation, then I was interested.”
Dr. Dale Reisner actively avoided a blood transfusion during surgery to repair a mitral valve in her heart. Long dominated by Jehovah’s Witnesses — whose faith forbids blood transfusions — bloodless surgeries and blood conservation programs are now attracting mainstream patients worried about what some experts say are clear risks, including more infections, longer recuperation, increased illness and even death.
"The best blood is in your own veins,” said Dr. Lori Heller, medical director of the blood management program at Swedish Medical Center in Seattle, where Reisner had her surgery — without any transfusion. “We want to think before we transfuse.”
Decades of experience with Jehovah’s Witness patients, including 1.5 million members in the United States, has helped propel the new emphasis on blood management.
To read the MSNBC.com article in its entirety, click here.
For more information about the Swedish Blood Management Program, click here.