Pioneers in Medicine

AT AGE 61, José, a Belgian from the small town of Oupeye, was told that he would need a liver transplant. “It was the shock of my life,” he says. Just four decades ago, liver transplants were unthinkable. Even in the 1970’s, the survival rate was only about 30 percent. Today, however, liver transplants are routinely performed, with a much higher success rate.

But there is still a major drawback. Since liver transplants often involve excessive bleeding, doctors usually administer blood transfusions during the operation. Because of his religious convictions, José did not want blood. But he did want the liver transplant. Impossible? Some might think so. But the chief surgeon felt that he and his colleagues had a good chance of operating successfully without blood. And that is precisely what they did! Just 25 days after his operation, José was back home with his wife and daughter.*

Thanks to the skills of those whom Time magazine calls “heroes of medicine,” bloodless medicine and surgery is now more common than ever. But why is there such a demand for it? To answer that question, let us examine the troubled history of blood transfusions.

[Footnote]

Jehovah’s Witnesses view organ transplant operations as a matter of individual conscience.

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Worldwide, there are currently more than 90,000 doctors who have made it known that they are willing to treat Jehovah’s Witnesses without blood