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Postoperative management of severe acute anemia in a Jehovah's Witness

Authors

  • Liana Maria Tôrres de Araújo Azi,

    Corresponding author
    1. Discipline of Anesthesiology, Department of Biomechanics, Medicine and Rehabilitation of Locomotor System, Faculty of Medicine of Ribeirao Preto, USP, Brazil
    • Address reprint requests to: Liana M. T. de Araújo Azi, 1095, Prof Cassilandro Barbuda Street, Ap. 401–Costa Azul–41.760-110, Salvador-BA, Brazil; e-mail: liana.araujo@ufba.br, lvgarcia@fmrp.usp.br.

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  • Fernando Muniz Lopes,

    1. Discipline of Anesthesiology, Department of Biomechanics, Medicine and Rehabilitation of Locomotor System, Faculty of Medicine of Ribeirao Preto, USP, Brazil
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  • Luis Vicente Garcia

    1. Discipline of Anesthesiology, Department of Biomechanics, Medicine and Rehabilitation of Locomotor System, Faculty of Medicine of Ribeirao Preto, USP, Brazil
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  • This article has been published with the written consent of the patient.

Abstract

Background

Low levels of hemoglobin (Hb) are not rare in patients who refuse blood components but this case is unique due to the severity of anemia and the possibility that her previous episode of acute normovolemic hemodilution has influenced her outcome.

Case Report

We report an incident involving acute blood loss after surgery with an extremely low hematocrit. Despite her Hb levels (2.8 g/dL) she remained lucid, expressing her wish not to receive transfusion. When the patient lost consciousness (Hb, 1.4 g/dL) she was promptly sedated, curarized, and put onto mechanical controlled ventilation. Aggressive erythropoietin therapy increased the patient's Hb level by 240% in 10 days, despite a high platelet count. This case demonstrates that critical levels of oxygen delivery may be lower than previously thought possible.

Conclusion

This case is an example of the resilience of the human body in an extreme circumstance. It might be the most severe case of anemia that a person has survived without any sequelae.

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