Blood Avoidance Program Gives Families Options

Blood Avoidance Program Gives Families Options

DeVos Children’s Hospital Offers One of Five Blood Avoidance Programs in the Country

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–July 18, 2006–A blood avoidance program is the only option for parents who don’t want their children to have a blood transfusion during surgery due to religious or personal preferences. DeVos Children’s Hospital is home to one of just five pediatric blood avoidance programs nationwide and the only one in Michigan.
The Asher family of St. Clair, Michigan recently utilized this program at DeVos Children’s Hospital. Tammy Asher learned in her 28th week of pregnancy that her son would need critical surgery if he was to live beyond his first year. As a Jehovah’s Witness, Asher believes the introduction of new blood into the body should be avoided at all costs. After other hospitals in Michigan told her a surgery with a blood transfusion was the only option, Asher found DeVos Children’s Hospital in Grand Rapids.

“Bloodless medicine provides patients and families with options,” said Nabil Hassan, M.D., director, critical care, DeVos Children’s Hospital. “Whether for religious preferences or the desire to avoid donated blood, this program provides families with an alternative they often don’t know exists.”

Bloodless surgery can often be achieved through one or more techniques.

Test blood using smaller sample sizes.
Physicians increase a child’s red blood cells prior to surgery with the use of medication and vitamins.
Use of medication to enhance blood clotting.
Lasers, instead of scalpels, are used to seal the body tissue as it is cut.
A child’s blood, typically lost during surgery, is filtered and put back into the body.
Lost blood is replaced with alternative solutions, such as saline.
A special sealant is used to minimize post-surgical bleeding.
Asher gave birth to a six pound, seven ounce baby boy on June 3. Baby Alexander’s diagnosis of diaphragmatic hernia – a condition in which the liver and bowel develop in the chest cavity instead of the abdomen – was confirmed. Within a week of birth, he underwent surgery to correct the condition without a blood transfusion. Surgery was successful, and he is recovering faster than physicians and family anticipated. The neonatal staff affectionately refers to him as “Alexander the Great.”

“I am forever grateful to the physicians, nurses and staff at DeVos Children’s Hospital,” said Tammy Asher. “We were treated as human beings and not degraded because of our beliefs. Our son is one of the most important things in the world to us. Being able to honor our religious beliefs while receiving lifesaving care is something we will never forget.”

The Blood Avoidance Program at DeVos Children’s Hospital started in 2000 in response to a growing need among patients and families. More than 450 patients have benefited from the program to date. Blood avoidance programs are also available at children’s hospitals in California, Ohio, Oregon and Pennsylvania.

DeVos Children’s Hospital, a member of Spectrum Health, is West Michigan’s only children’s hospital, serving children and families throughout a 37-county region. The team includes more than 100 specialists uniquely skilled in providing medical care to children, in more than 40 outpatient clinical settings. DeVos Children’s Hospital is committed to caring for children and families with compassion, excellence and innovation. For more information, you can visit


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