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Understanding Blood and Blood Components

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Learn more about blood and 'minor blood fractions' with this helpful interactive chart.

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Bloodless Medicine

Bloodless Brain Surgery

Bloodless surgery protects patient’s health, faith

BY KELLY URBAN

The Tribune-Democrat
Sunday, May 6, 2007

Johnstown, PA - When 22-year-old Kendra Napotnik left her home in Danbury, Conn., in late February to visit her folks in New Florence, she never imagined her leisurely trip would turn into a life-changing experience.

Napotnik, a 2002 graduate of United High School, said she was sitting with her family and boyfriend having a relaxing dinner when she began having a seizure.

“This had never been an issue before,” she said.

Napotnik was unconscious, and the next thing she remembered was waking up in an ambulance being told she had a seizure.

“I was taken to the emergency room at Memorial Medical Center, where they ran tests and said they had found something,” she said.

That something was a tumor, and surgery to remove it was the only option. Fortunately, tests proved the mass was not cancerous.

She said she wanted to go home to Danbury to have the operation, but her parents insisted she stay close to them for the operation.

But because Napotnik is a Jehovah’s Witness, and the faith views blood as sacred and prohibits transfusions, she had to seek out a doctor who could perform bloodless surgery.

She said her father heard of Dr. Hae-Dong Jho, a doctor at Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh who was skilled in performing bloodless surgery.

Napotnik and her family went to see Dr. Jho for a consultation. He agreed that the tumor needed to be removed.

Without surgery, her speech could be severely affected because of where the tumor was located on her brain. It’s unclear when the tumor formed, but it’s believed she may have had it since birth, and only now did it cause a problem.

Although bloodless surgery is performed primarily because of religious beliefs, it is growing more popular with patients and doctors.

The term dates back to the 1960s. It first became available at Allegheny General in 1998.

Napotnik said she was a bit apprehensive about the bloodless surgery, but, because of her faith, she didn’t even consider having a transfusion.

“There are a lot of patients who are not Jehovah’s Witnesses looking into bloodless surgery,” she said. “There are health risks associated with transfusions, and it’s easier for your body to recover (with bloodless surgery).”

Copyright © 1999-2006 cnhi, inc. Reprinted with Permission 

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