Alternative blood product helps Jehovah’s Witness teen

CBC News (Canada), Nov. 12, 2002
http://www.cbc.ca/

TORONTO – A 14-year-old Jehovah’s Witness who had a non-stop nosebleed may be the youngest person to be treated with a cell-free blood product for her anemia, researchers say.

The patient had immune thrombocytopenia, a condition that attacks platelets in the body. And platelets are essential in blood clotting. If clotting doesn’t occur, even minor injuries or trauma can become life-threatening.

Jehovah’s Witnesses often refuse blood transfusions because of their beliefs. But cell-free blood products, containing hemoglobin but not red blood cells, may be acceptable for some Jehovah’s Witnesses.

The alternative product has been tested on adults but had never been used on a child, said Brian Kavanagh, a medical professor at the University of Toronto who treated the girl at the Hospital for Sick Children.

One of her other physicians, Johann Hitzler, said they tried everything to stop her bleeding but they had no choice but to use the manufactured product.

Kavanagh said cell-free hemoglobin may be an alternative for Jehovah’s Witnesses who need fluids with the ability to carry oxygen like blood. He added more study needs to be done on pediatric patients.

The girl is now healthy and no longer anemic. Her case is reported in the fall issue of the British Journal of Haematology.

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