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The BBC's Andy Joynson
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Monday, 13 March, 2000, 19:07 GMT
Jehovah's couple in bloodless transplant

Alf and Marie Hoyle recovering in hospital
A man whose religion forbids receiving blood transfusions has received a new kidney from his wife in a operation.

Alf Hoyle overcame two major obstacles to the transplant.

Firstly, it is highly unusual for a wife to provide her husband a suitably matched organ for the operation.

And secondly, both Alf and his wife Marie are dedicated Jehovah's witnesses, whose faith prevents them from having a blood transfusion - a normal part of such complex surgery.

However, surgeons at St James' University Hospital in Leeds have been working on the art of "bloodless transfusions", in which the patient's own blood is preserved wherever possible and recycled into the body during the operation.



Surgeon Steve Pollard: "Many units would have refused."
However, if an emergency arises during the operation, both could have died because they could not be saved with a transfusion.

This technique is in common use for many operations - including open heart surgery - in the US, but such complex operations are rarely carried out bloodlessly in the UK.

Both husband and wife underwent the surgery on Friday and are recovering well at St James'.

Bible orders

Jehovah's witnesses say there are at least 400 Bible references which prohibit them from receiving blood.

Doctors use treatments to boost the number of blood cells in the body in the run-up to the operation, and during it use a machine to filter blood taken out of the body before putting it back in.

Other operations which can be carried out bloodlessly include liver transplantation and prostate removal.

Surgeon Steve Pollard, who carried out part of the transplant operation, has already carried out a bloodless liver transplant at St James'.

He said: "I know there are some units who have said that they wouldn't proceed under those circumstances, but it's not us that's taking the risk - it's the patient."

Alf had been on the waiting list for a kidney transplant for nine years, undergoing painful dialysis.

Marie told the BBC how she felt after agreeing to donate a kidney: "As I left the ward I was in tears at the enormity of what was going to take place."

Alf said: "I can't express really what a wonderful thing she has done - giving me her kidney."
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