Faith’s ban on tranfusions spurs ‘bloodless’ surgeries

Surgeons worked Thursday to save a 74-year-old Oakland man’s life — and abide by his religious conviction — as they performed emergency open-heart surgery without giving him a blood transfusion.

As a Jehovah’s Witness, LeRoy Grant believes the Bible forbids blood transfusions. He felt he could not compromise his beliefs.

“If I violate God’s law on blood simply to gain a few more days — or years — of life, I would be dead spiritually, and my relationship with God would be damaged beyond repair,” Grant said recently at his home.

Such a belief once meant almost certain death, but Grant was recuperating late Thursday after the four-hour procedure. Medical technology has advanced to the point that many doctors believe surgeries without blood transfusions should become the norm.

The so-called “bloodless” surgeries use drugs to raise blood counts before an operation and limit blood loss during it. A “cell-saver” machine also allows physicians to collect pooling blood during surgery, wash it and infuse it back into the body intravenously.

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