A Jehovah's Witness presented with colon cancer and profound anemia. On admission, her hemoglobin level was 30 g/L (3.0 g/dL). She refused all transfusions and failed to respond to oral iron therapy. She was ultimately prepared for surgery using recombinant human erythropoietin, iron dextran, and total parenteral nutrition. It took nearly 1 month to increase her hemoglobin level to an acceptable preoperative level of 110 g/L (11.0 g/dL). During the postoperative period, erythropoietin and parenteral iron therapy were briefly continued and a follow-up hemoglobin level of greater than 120 g/L (12.0 g/dL) was observed. Recombinant human erythropoietin, along with parenteral iron and adequate nutrition, may be useful in patients who refuse transfusion or cannot be transfused because of difficult cross-reacting antibodies.
(Arch Surg. 1993;128:1168-1170)