Thursday, February 23, 2017

Spread the Word: Transfusion is NOT a "Lifesaving Procedure."

It’s happened again: Still another study, this time out of Canada, proving beyond all doubt that blood transfusion is bad medicine. 

The February, 2017, World Journal of Urology contains the results of a nine-year study of bladder cancer patients who underwent a surgical procedure called radical cystectomy.

Of the 2,593 patients, 62% overall received blood transfusions. (In 2000, at the beginning of the study, it was 68%. By 2008 the number had dropped to 54%. So surgeons are slowly getting the message, but not fast enough.)

Transfused:                                                    Not transfused:

Average hospital stay:            11 days                                 9 days
Readmitted within 90 days:   38%                                      29%    
Mortality:                               11%                                      4%

And here’s the big one: Overall 5-year survival rate was 33% higher among those patients not transfused. And the cancer-specific survival rate was a whopping 39% higher among those who had bloodless surgery!

This is like the umpteenth study proving that blood transfusion is a terrible idea. Here are just a few recent examples:

“Jehovah’s Witnesses who refused blood transfusions while undergoing cardiac surgery were significantly less likely to need another operation for bleeding compared with non-Witnesses who were transfused. They were also less likely to suffer a post-op heart attack or kidney failure.”
 Can’t we, by now, safely assume that, what has been found to be true in these fields of surgery, is true in every field? 
Yet the same day this bladder cancer study came out, another  story was published about the new guidelines for surgeons when a patient refuses a transfusion. It was introduced with the line, 
“Blood transfusions are a common and often lifesaving procedure.”
 That article noted that doctors are frequently accused of having a God complex. Many of them cultivate an attitude of all-knowing, don’t-question-me superiority. It even has a name: it's called "paternalistic medicine." In some cases it’s ego. However, another reason they do this is simply time management: A time-and-motion study showed that, contrary to the picture of them painted by TV shows like Chicago Med, doctors spend less than one third of their time at work actually seeing patients. They spend more than two thirds of their time writing notes and filling out forms to satisfy the requirements of their institution and the insurance companies. That would make for terrible TV, wouldn't it? But if they encouraged questions from their patients they’d never get any work done.

Because of the intimidation factor, and considering the years they spent in medical school, plus what we assume must be hours of ongoing study, you may feel the doctor surely already knows anything you might be inclined to tell him. Not so.
Surgeons spend on average 4.4 hours a week reading medical journals. Less than 5 hours a week! I spend more time than that on Facebook. If you are a heart surgeon, how likely is it that you’re going to spend part of your precious reading time perusing the “World Journal of Urology”?

Of course, as the list above shows, there have been articles in heart surgery journals, too, about the advantages of bloodless surgery, just as there have been in nearly every other field, from journals about joint replacement to journals about emergency medicine.

But changing the thinking of doctors is a slow process. As cardiothoracic specialist Bruce Spiess even went so far as to say:

"Blood transfusions are a religion. They have never been safety- or efficacy-tested," he said. "Drug options are carefully tested and regulated through prospective, randomised double-blind testing, but blood transfusion stands apart in that it has predominantly been believed to be helpful and evolved as a pillar of modern medicine."

Blood transfusions are not life-saving. They are simply bad medicine. Click on the links, do your research. Share this column with everyone you know, particularly if they are in the medical field or the media. 

Unlike those drug commercials, I'm not suggesting you "ask your doctor." I'm suggesting you "TELL your doctor." If he disagrees, find a doctor who has read something other than Facebook this week. 

To read another of my columns about blood medicine, click here.

 Bill K. Underwood is a freelance columnist and author of several books, all available in ebook or paperback at You can help support this site by purchasing a book.


  1. American cardiothoracic specialist Bruce Spiess isn't an impartial source with evidence backed by peer review. He seeks to profit from blood substitutions he is part of creating. Use peer reviewed articles to prove your point. Otherwise you are merely misinforming people with your personal preference and opinion.

    1. That quote from Bruce Spiess is of marginal importance to the full article. Nothing here of personal opinion, just go through the linked articles

  2. Facts & Figures - what do they tell us ? simply stated they tell us the Truth !

  3. Why nobody say nothing about that ???
    Are to large intrests about money here ?

  4. The USA Military Docters are converting to bloodless surgery,by getting training from certain hosptials that have been having great results treating,JWs over a long period of time. Blood is notmedicine, it's cannibalism

  5. Very first recored "blood transfusion"performed on "pope innocent the3rd they bled 3 young men to death,trying to save him,did'nt work, but became another great source of M$$$y for TURCC and still is!

  6. Hi Mr. Underwood,
    I have problems with your research, logic, and conclusions.

    In your article citing Jehovah's Witnesses blood transfusions:
    The main point of the article was that blood transfusions may be overused, but should not be eliminated. The article says towards the end:

    According to the Canadian Blood Services, Canada is at the lower end of blood use worldwide, and experts say it would be dangerous to attempt to cut transfusions rates to near zero. As well, demand for blood is expected to grow as the population ages, because older people use more blood.
    While Jehovah’s Witnesses have taught doctors that the body can compensate for extraordinarily low levels of hemoglobin, levels that are too low mean the cells and tissues in the brain and other vital organs become starved of oxygen.
    Hebert has watched Jehovah’s Witnesses die for refusing to be transfused, an experience that leaves the medical team feeling helpless. “But you can’t force your values on someone else,” he says.
    Hebert says more research and education is needed to help doctors decide how long they can safely wait before ordering blood, how much blood they should give and when to hold off giving any blood at all.
    “The problem is that we don’t have the data,” Hebert said. “In many cases, we just don’t know.”

    The article didn’t specifically mention some doctors having a “God complex” or "Paternalistic medicine", or "don’t question me" mentality. It did describe some doctors who “remain unconvinced of the potential dangers of transfusions”, and some who were using too high hemoglobin thresholds in Dr. Hebert’s opinion.

    Your article on urology referred to perioperative blood transfusions as opposed to intraoperative blood transfusion.
    The perioperative transfusions are those before and after the surgery. The transfusions used in the actual surgery are called intraoperative transfusion.

    Perioperative: pertaining or relating to the period immediately before and/or after an operation, as perioperative care.Usually relates to immediately before, as in perioperative antibiotics, extending to just after.
    Intraoperative:occurring during a surgical operation.

    The logic that because something is overused means that it should never be used or some forms in cases may be unhealthy therefore all cases and forms are bad is seriously flawed.
    I guess my biggest concern is the appearance of honesty and truthfulness. There is a requirement that Christians be truthful. We cannot even allow a hint of falsehood or deceit. Because those are indications of following Satan and not Jehovah. If we are trying to make a point that is not backed up or is a serious exaggeration of what is actually said in the sources we are acting contrary to Jehovah’s commands and seriously need to consider any claim as to whether we are a witness (has to tell the truth) or represent Jehovah who is the source of all truth and does not lie or deceive. See Revelation 12:9, John 8:44

    Numbers 23:19 -- God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?
    Leviticus 19:11 -- “ ‘Do not steal. “ ‘Do not lie. “ ‘Do not deceive one another.
    2 John 1:7 -- I say this because many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world. Any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist.
    Philippians 2:15 -- so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky

    1. If you would like to get a blood transfusion go right ahead. Statistics show that giving blood to an already compromised person is detrimental and those outcomes are not as good as bloodless ones. And as was briefly mentioned in the original article giving a blood transfusion in an extreme emergency or extreme loss of blood does not guarantee saving the life.

  7. I believe in full disclosure.

  8. It would interest most you commenting on this post, what the Australian blood doner site warns of the dangers of receiving blood transfusions.