Infant Receives Bloodless Liver Surgery

LOS ANGELES-Jehovah's Witnesses say the Bible prevents them from receiving whole blood or blood products. This becomes a serious problem for those followers who need surgery.

Doctors at Children's Hospital Los Angeles are impressed with the success of a recent bloodless procedure; they may be able to implement the new technology in many surgeries for Jehovah's Witnesses.

Aiden Michael Rush was born with biliary atresia, where the bile duct is obstructed. He had surgery to connect his bile duct to his intestine, but developed liver disease.

The parents of the 7-month-old are Jehovah's Witnesses. They searched for a hospital that could repair their son's liver without a blood transfusion. They found a medical team in California willing to take on the extra challenge.

On Feb. 7, the "bloodless" operation took place because doctors stimulated the production of red blood cells with drugs and recycled the blood from the boy's incisions.

Aiden did not receive the customary two or three units of transfused blood during the surgery. Instead, he received 20% of his grandmother's liver, and a chance at beating his disease. Without the surgery, he would have likely died.

Since the surgery two weeks ago, his stomach has returned to normal size and his skin is beginning to lose the bronze-yellowish coloring.

Twenty adults are now being evaluated for similar bloodless operations at USC University Hospital. The hospital has performed the operation on four adult Jehovah's Witnesses since 1999.

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