Cardiac surgery on Jehovah's Witnesses (JW) can be challenging, given the desire to avoid blood products. Establishment of a blood conservation program involving the pre-, intra- and post-operative stages for all patients may lead to a minimized need for blood transfusion in all patients.Methods:
Pre-operatively, all JW patients were treated with high dose erythropoietin 500 IU/kg twice a week. JW patients were compared to matching non-JW patients from the congenital cardiac database, two per JW to serve as control. Blood use, ventilation time, bypass time, pre-operative hematocrit, first in intensive care unit (ICU) and at discharge and 24 hour chest drainage were compared. Pre-operative huddle, operating room huddle and post-operative bedside handoff were done with the congenital cardiac surgeon, perfusionist, anesthesiologist and intensive care team in all patients for goal alignment.Results:
Five JW patients (mean weight 24.4 ± 25.0 Kg, range 6.3 – 60 Kg) were compared to 10 non-JW patients (weight 22.0 ± 22.8 Kg, range 6.2 – 67.8 Kg). There was no difference in bypass, cross-clamp, time to extubation (0.8 vs. 2.1 hours), peak inotrope score (2.0 vs. 2.3) or chest drainage. No JW patient received a blood product compared to 40% of non-JW. The pre-operative hematocrit (Hct) was statistically greater for the JW patients (46.1 ± 3.3% vs. 36.3 ± 4.7%, p<0.001) and both ICU and discharge Hct were higher for the JW (37 ± 1.8% vs 32.4 ± 8.0% and 41 ± 8.1% vs 34.8 ± 7.9%), but did not reach statistical significance. All patients had similar blood draws during the hospitalization (JW x 18 mL/admission vs non-JW 20 mL/admission).Conclusion:
The continuous application and development of blood conservation techniques across the continuum of care allowed bloodless surgery for JW and non-JW patients alike. Blood conservation is a team sport and to make significant strides requires participation and input by all care providers.