Elective liver resection (LR) in Jehovah’s Witness (JW) patients, for whom transfusion is not an option, involves complex ethical and medical issues and surgical difficulties.
Consecutive data from a LR program for liver tumors in JWs performed between 2014 and 2017 were retrospectively reviewed. A systematic review of the literature with a pooled analysis was performed.
Ten patients were included (median age = 61 years). None needed preoperative erythropoietin. Tumor biopsy was not performed. Major hepatectomy was performed in 4 patients. The median estimated blood loss was 200 mL. A cell-saver was installed in 2 patients, none received saved blood. The median hemoglobin values before and at the end of surgery were 13.4 g/dL and 12.6 g/dL, respectively (p = 0.04). Nine complications occurred in 4 patients, but no postoperative hemorrhage occurred. In-hospital mortality was nil. Nine studies including 35 patients were identified in the literature; there was reported no mortality and low morbidity. None of the patients were transfused.
By using a variety of blood conservation techniques, the risk/benefit ratio of elective liver resection for liver was maintained in selected adult JW patients. JW faith should not constitute an absolute exclusion from hepatectomy.