Duke Makes Organ Transplants Possible for Jehovah’s Witnesses

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According to the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network, only about 2,600 donor hearts become available each year. At any given time, about 4,000 people are on a waiting list for a heart transplant.

In the past, people with religious objections to blood transfusions refused this and other lifesaving procedures. But for many, the surgery is now possible without conflicting with faith.

Raoul Gibson, 35, received a donor’s heart at Duke Hospital last Valentine’s Day. Normally, he would have had to refuse the lifesaving transplant, due to a certain tenet of his Jehovah’s Witness faith.

“The fact that I would not accept blood, blood transfusions, or any whole blood products,” Gibson said.

10 years ago, Duke began their Center for Blood Conservation. They developed a process for any surgery involving transfusions to control bleeding. Duke’s Dr. Mani Daneshmand said they worked closely with Jehovah’s Witness representatives.

“This is accepted strategy for people of the Jehovah’s Witness faith,” Daneshmand said.

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