A Jehovah's Witness whose 37-year refusal to receive a blood transfusion has allowed a horrific tumor to eclipse his face has been given new hope by a British doctor who believes he can treat him without the need for a transfusion.
Jose Maestre, 51, of Lisbon, Portugal, was first stricken with a facial tumor at age 14. His religious beliefs have kept him from undergoing surgery. The tumor is now 15 inches long and weighs 12 pounds, according to a report in the Daily Telegraph of London.
Dr. Iain Hutchison, of St. Bartholomew's Hospital in London, believes he can treat Maestre using ultrasound waves.
"I think we can remove a large proportion of the lesions – around 80 percent," Hutchison told the newspaper. "We would then have to deal with the underlying nose, lip and tongue disfigurement."
"I have never seen a vascular malformity as bad," he added.
Hutchison, who also runs the Saving Faces surgery research charity, is optimistic that a single operation with a harmonic scalpel could have a dramatic affect on Jose's features.
The ultrasound waves will coagulate the blood prior to the surgery and should allow his growths to be removed without the risk of heavy bleeding. If the treatment works, the majority of the tumor should be removed during a 12-hour operation, said Hutchinson.
Jehovah's Witnesses accept medical and surgical treatment, but their religious beliefs — that blood transfusion is specifically forbidden by Biblical passages — rule out the transfusion of while blood. Witnesses also believe that blood removed from the body should be disposed of, so they do not accept autotransfusion of predeposited blood.
Maestre is the subject of a Discovery Channel documentary called "The Man with No Face," set to air Thursday in Britain.