Faith and the Issue of Blood Transfusion

From Salman Hameed of Irtiqa:

The issue of faith and medical treatments is a complicated one. It is clearly wrong when parents refuse to provide medical treatment to their children because of their faith. However, it gets complicated with adults who refuse treatment. After all, it is their life and they have the ultimate say about their own treatment.
The Washington Post today has an article about a 36-year-old Peruvian immigrant mother, Maribel Perez, who has struggled balancing her faith as a Jehovah’s Witness and the blood transfusion she needs for her lung transplant.
There are several interesting bits in here:

a) Maribel’s view that she may be trading a few more years here on Earth for an eternal condemnation. Whether one should believe in this equation is a separate question, but if one does, like Maribel, then you can appreciate her struggle in making this decision. She also believes that God would punish her in this life for going through with the blood transfusion

b) Her husband, her mother, and many of her friends clearly want her to go through with the lung transplant. But to make their case, they also use a religious argument—that God would want her to live longer for her kids

c) The members of her Jehovah’s Witness congregation, who want her to refuse transfusion. In many ways, this is the group that is least affected by her death—and only gains from her steadfast refusal of transfusion

d) On top of all this, there is also the issue of the expenses of post-transplant care, and here, a tightly knit religious community would have been of help, but unfortunately, the Jehovah’s Witnesses take the opposite route.

Good, bad—these are complicated issues. I have the point of view that faith should not play a role in medical decisions, but I appreciate the complexity offered in the article. In her ultimate decision:

Perez feared less for her eternal life than that God would punish her by taking her life if she went ahead with the transplant. “I was worried God wouldn’t let me live after the operation,” she said. Three days later, Perez told Lorenzo she’d changed her mind.
“I began to think how much I loved my children, these marvelous gifts from God,” she explained, gulping for air as tears rolled down her face. “God loves. He does not demand that we follow rules. The rules are ours.” Her heart told her that God wanted her to choose life.
Perez no longer talks to Jehovah’s Witnesses, nor they to her. It is hard, she said. They are like her family. But the religion “disfellowships,” or excommunicates, members who disobey its teachings. Contacted by a reporter and asked about Perez, a member of her congregation said, “She is not a Jehovah’s Witness,” and hung up.

Ouch. Jehovah’s Witnesses do not come out looking good from this story. But these issues are not limited to Jehovah’s Witnesses. For example, I knew someone (a Muslim) who refused to have any medicine or treatment that had any derivatives from alcohol. I have also posted before about the Followers of Christ Church who refuse to have any medical care for themselves and for their kids, and about the case of the rise of polio in many areas where the polio vaccine is considered an “infidel vaccine.

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47 Responses

  1. Roberta says:

    Blood transfusion ban is just man-made dogma.

    At its core, the Jehovah’s Witnesses refusal of blood transfusions is based entirely on faith, not on science (as their own “Blood Brochure” is very specific about). Bloodless surgery as a *preference* may be more popular than it once was, but that is not the issue at hand.

    The *doctrine* and practice of letting someone die rather than allow the use of blood in life-threatening situations is the real issue. And at its core is the blind adherence to the dictates of an organization of men.
    The “blood issue” is the JW’s Jonestown Kool-Aid. It is their baseless test of loyalty to their Society. Despite the fact that it makes little sense to a silent majority of them anymore, they think it proves their faithfulness to “God’s organization” People who die refusing blood, or who let their children die,are considered heroes.
    The Watchtower has teams of lawyers to protect itself from wrongful death lawsuits.
    JW hypocritically USE Blood when they want to

    The thousands of deaths caused by the JW misinterpretation of the Bible does not go away nor is it justified because of emerging technology of *bloodless* treatments

  2. marcus says:

    She’s likely not a Jehovah’s Witness. But someone associating, or studying with Jehovah’s Witnesses. The onset of the story mentions that she talked with someone about his faith 2 years ago. But since then, she’s been confined to hospitals…Usually, it takes about one year of studying with witnesses to become a JW, however 2 years, while being in the hospital sounds like a stretch.

    Had she been a JW, Im sure she would have mentioned so to her Dr earlier than right before surgery. She would have also been given information on bloodless hospitals, bloodless surgery, and blood alternatives. All of which are available in the US. In fact, there are several hospitals, most notably St Joseph’s in Houston that SPECIALIZE in bloodless lung transplant surgery.

    The article does a poor job explaining JW beliefs, and why they reject blood. Here’s a better resource:

  3. Roberta says:

    The Biggest issue with the blood supply is there isn’t ENOUGH DONORS.

    Patients like Jehovah’s Witnesses DO use the blood banks for their various blood ‘fractions’ but refuse to donate themselves.

    No blood “substitutes” exist at this time only red cells will carry oxygen.With emerging medical advancements it’s just a matter of time before the Red Cross blood drive collection becomes obsolete.

    The risk of HIV transmission through transfusion is ONLY 1 in 2,135,000. In addition to testing, the risk is reduced by asking donors questions about HIV risk factors and symptoms. “The chance of contracting AIDS from a blood transfusion in the UK is less than 1 in 2,000,000.

    This is classified as a negligible risk, of the same order as the chance of being struck by lightning.

    The risk of dying in a road accident is approximately 250 times greater than the risk of AIDS from a blood transfusion, and 25 times greater than the risk of catching hepatitis B or hepatitis C

  4. marcus says:

    by the way. be prepared for a flood of anti-JW comments. Talking about how they’re a cult, bla bla bla.

  5. Synthetic hemoglobin holds hope for the future, since JWs won’t refuse that kind of transfusion. That day is still down the road.

    This technology is wonderful and the day will come when blood donations and transfusions are not needed.
    Blood can be dangerous but 1/3rd of all trauma deaths are from bleeding out,so not taking emergency blood is more lethal.
    For elective surgeries by all means avoid a transfusion by banking your own blood or building up your own existing potency.

    The Watchtower society will not allow a JW to bank their own blood
    Thousands of Jehovah’s Witnesses as many as 250,000 have died worldwide since WW2 due to the blood ban.

    Danny Haszard

  6. Lifelong Jehovah’s Witnesses dissident speaks out on JW belief system .

    A) They are at your door to recruit you for their watchtower society corporation,they will say that “we are just here to share a message from the Bible” this is deception right off.

    B) Their ‘message’ creed is a false Gospel that Jesus had his second coming in 1914.The problem with this is it’s not just a cute fairy tale,Jesus warned of the false prophets who would claim “..look he is here in the wilderness,or see here he is at the temple.”

    C) Their anti-blood transfusion ban against *whole blood* has killed thousands.

    D) once they recruit you they will “love bomb” you in cult fashion to also recruit your family & friends or cut them off.

    Danny Haszard Jehovah’s Witness X 33 years

  7. Mike Warren says:

    You say you “were” a witness 33 years. Probably not really. You would then know that it is not the society that forces anything on us, It is always a personal decision. Besides,we believe in the resurrection with our whole hearts.

    Anti-witness posts by opposers and apostates are both unreliable and distorted. Consider this observation by non-Witness professor of religious studies: “Neither the objective sociological researcher nor the court of law can readily regard the apostate as a creditable or reliable source of evidence. He must always be seen as one whose personal history predisposes him to bias with respect to both his previous religious commitment and affiliations, the suspicion must arise that he acts from a personal motivation to vindicate himself and to regain his self-esteem, by showing himself to have been first a victim but subsequently to have become a redeemed crusader.

    As various instances have indicated, he is likely to be suggestible and ready to enlarge or embellish his grievances to satisfy that species of journalist whose interest is more in sensational copy than in a objective statement of the truth.”

    Bryan R. Wilson, Ph.D., University of Oxford Bryan Wilson (1926 – 2004), Emeritus Professor at All Souls College, Oxford was one of the most well known British scholars of religion and wrote extensively about New Religious Movements and apostates (ex-members who become openly critical of the group they were once a member of). In an article entitled Apostates and New Religious Movements.

  8. Allison says:

    Never stand between a Jehovah’s Witness and his sense of *persecution*.

    Jehovah witnesses have the truth as much as Scientology does same subterfuges,personal attacks on critics same apologist same fanatics same everything.

    Blood transfusion to Jehovah Witness is like psychiatry to Scientologist.

  9. Allison says:

    Blood transfusions will become obsolete and organ transplants (which JW hypocritically accept and have diseases too) will also some day become obsolete.

    All these are scientific advancements that come on their own.Actually it is the RED CROSS that is pushing for the bloodless so they don’t have to collect anymore.

    Giving the JW credit for this is like giving Hitler credit for producing the volkswagen or one single person the credit for inventing the Internet.
    Jehovah Witness USE BLOOD by the Gallons for lots of conditions like hemophilia so there….

  10. Marty Jessup says:

    Jw’s have a false sense of superiority towards the public at large. They dismiss the opinions of their non-JW neighbors and no, they do not think for themselves, otherwise they would be helping to build a habitatat for humanity house or volunteering in a real charity, instead of being a shill for a cultish religious publishing company. There will be no resurrection, either for JW’s. The laws of quantumn physics do not all allow for a physical recreation of a human body. Jesus has been a no-show for almost 2000 years and that is proof enough for me that this life is all we have. If JW’s want to commit suicide over a blood transfusion, then go ahead and let them kill themselves. The courts do, however need to protect children for being killed by JW adults/parents.

  11. “”Mike Warren says: February 17, 2010 at 2:24 pm
    You say you “were” a witness 33 years. Probably not really. You would then know that it is not the society that forces anything on us, It is always a personal decision. Besides,we believe in the resurrection with our whole hearts.””

    “Mike Warren” sounds a whole lot like hybrid apostate Steve Klemetti who post disinformation about the Watchtower authority

  12. Watchdog says:

    If a person…man or woman gives there life for what they believe, don’t we praise them and call them heroes or something much loftier. A soldier gives his life during combat for a cause he believes is true and right and most would say “I have to respect a person for standing firm to the end on principles that they firmly believe in.”

    The bible clearly says to abstain from blood. It even says to abstain from anything strangled….At the end of one of the admonitian to abstain from blood, the scriptures sayd ‘good health to you’…so honoring people of faith instead of bashing them would make more sense.

  13. ChristianGal says:

    Jehovah’s Witnesses are the *perfect storm of deception*

    Watchtower manipulative tactics:
    [A.] Deny all wrongdoing

    [B.] Blame the victim

    [C.] Defer/deflect how other religions are worse.

    [D.] Use shills to advocate your position

    [E.] Bible thump

    (here is one)
    2 Timothy 3:13 ” Evil men and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived”

  14. enlightened says:

    When my son was born, we had to leave Canada and go to the US to a Jehovah’s Witness doctor because our Jehovah’s Witness religion taught us the bible teaches “no blood transfusion”

    We are no longer in that religion.

    However, it says you have free choice, but let that choice go against their belief’s and your out and on your own. They disfellowship and shun you.

    It is a high control religion with huge dropout figures………..but they will never admit it.

  15. Blood transfusions were not around when the Bible was written.

  16. Jay W says:

    If you dont accept the beliefs share some good with people. should everyone be just like YOU?
    or YOU? if someone feels that taking blood is a haszard to his or her health respect them, they should respect your right to take blood.

    P.S. most who say “i am ex jw” never get the facts straight even about what they dont agree with.

  17. JW Jane says:

    Most people who are Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t get the facts right about their own beliefs because the Watchtower keeps changing the dogmas with “new light” often motivated by incoming litigation lawsuits.

    Just google: Jehovah Witness Watchtower
    for pages of info

  18. Joseph says:

    I wish people would stop saying derogatory things about the Watchtower. 7 million loyal believers follow the direction of the Governing Body of Jehovah’s organization and are even willing to put our lives on the line.

    Each year more are willing to obey their teaching about abstaining from blood even to the point of death, than the number that died at the People’s Temple massacre in Jonestown.

    That is true faith, my friends! I bet most of you opposers and apostates do not have that much faith to die for your leaders.

  19. WildernessWayne says:

    (Matthew 23:9-12)”Neither be called ‘leaders,’ for YOUR Leader is one, the Christ. But the greatest one among YOU must be YOUR minister. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.

    Transfusions should have been left to Christian conscience, not some self-elected hierarchy. It’s the same problem with every religion, the weaker ones demand rules and always rise to the top. When in control, they kick out the conscientious and dominate the sincere with rules that become irreconcilable doctrines and actually stifle the Christian conscience.

  20. Jane Dough says:

    Are you kidding, ‘Joseph’? Where does the Bible tell us we must face death in our loyalty to human ‘rulers’? To say that more JW’s die each year than the Kool-Aid drinkers at Jonestown(900+)is NOT a good example. The similarities are not lost on me though – Jim Jones was a false prophet just like the GB of the JWs. DON’T drink the Kool-Aid! Further, their NWT translation of Acts is misdirected. The admonition was already spoken to stay away from strangled animals since the meat wouldn’t be drained of blood – but the second admonition is pertaining to murder.
    My only leader and Master is Christ Jesus – for my faith in him I would die… but for no other. God does not ask us to, ever. YOUR only leader and Master should be Christ Jesus too, if you call yourself ‘Christian’, don’t you think?

  21. Jake Gill says:

    I’m curious as to how many here would ever refuse a blood transfusion.

    What I mean by this is whether those that are not JW would take a blood transfusion (or for their child) just because their doctor says it is necessary. According to a panel of experts that reviewed 555 studies associated with blood transfusion and found that the vast majority of scenarios, blood transfusion introduce only risk and no benefit, yet are given habitually rather than based on evidence by medical doctors. It concluded 40-60% of transfusions (US) fell in to the scenarios which favored no transfusion. In short, where many would accuse the JW of “ignorance” and risking their life not accepting transfusion (several of the cases in the media have leading doctors disputing needs in several reported cases) if any of you have accepted for yourself or your children in non-trauma surgery, there is a good chance that you have “ignorantly” put that life in danger. If you think that the “1 in a million” chance is not a high risk, consider that that is an argument not put forth my medical studies but rather by people trying to support a prejudice. If you have a million risks each with one in a million, what is your odds of one of those risks happening. Though screening has improved, risks are not limited to infectious diseases in the blood. Studies show risk associated with Transfusion related acute lung infection, kidney failure, heart failure, immunosuppression (you won’t die directly from the blood, but it lowers your immunity so you are more succeptible to infections common in hospital and to weak to fight off ie Pneumonia), stroke, lung injury and so forth. This is medically verifiable information as opposed to the assertions that a person died because of not recieving a blood transfusion when several hundreds and even thousands with similar conditions died WITH blood transfusions.

    So to reiterate my question, how many that will attack JW’s for refusing blood transfusion will also attack the doctors (who are supposed to be educated as opposed to the accusation that JW’s are ignorant) and patients that continue to administer and accept blood transfusions unnecessarily? Regardless of what you think of the religion, you are accusing them of not thinking for themselves (that is by looking at the evidence) when by a growing amount of evidence shows that Doctors and patients using blood transfusion are doing so habitually, not thinking for themselves.

  22. jug head says:

    In the 70’s I was a conscientious objector and though I wasn’t pushed to it I would not have gone to Vietnam regardless of the consequences.

    A question: If the government had sent me to jail and told me they would execute me in two weeks unless I gave in and went against my conscience, what should I do? Should I go to war and kill others out of fear of death? What if friends pressured me because they disagreed with my stand? What should I do? Give in? These were real issues back then. I like to think I would have died for what I believed (and still believe).

    I wonder whether the young lady was a true believer seeing as she found a convenient “reason” to change her mind. I tend to agree with the person who said she likely wasn’t a Jehovah’s Witness. She may have grasped onto the religion of a neighbor because the neighbor was close and because she liked the sound of living forever but when it came to it she caved in.

    I have a feeling that the JW’s have been cast in a negative light as a way to enhance the story line. Who knows the real truth? The stories I have read show the reporters reporting hearsay. Not very objective.

  23. Jane Dough says:

    It’s a very deep subject, really. And objectivity is difficult when it’s the lives of CHILDREN at stake. I do know the real truth about it, having been a JW for years. It’s not casting a bad light on JWs as individual people, the way I see it, but exposing the doctrine they’ve been misled into believing. I think there are many JWs who’d risk reproof for their childrens lives, but who might not accept a transfusion for themselves. The lady in the article may or may not’ve been baptised into the religion(one must be to be called a Jehovah’s Witness), but she’d been taught by them and convinced as to what she should believe. Evidently others not in the religion reasoned with her and she changed her mind. This is just one sample of situations that arise, but it’s still about the WT’s enforced doctrine, not about the individuals who’ve been misled. Someone also mentioned the WT’s not against it’s members using blood factions for some ailments(so break down the blood into factions and God thinks it’s OK, but use whole blood and you’re in trouble? Come on, that’s like eating a ham and cheese sanwich being sinful, but eating the bread, cheese and meat separately is OK!)but they do not allow their members to contribute to blood banks. Is that reasonable? The way the disfellowshipment works is that when the WT puts on it’s public face they say a member won’t be disfellowshipped for taking blood — but it’s corporate face says that anyone who takes blood while knowing the WT ‘rules’ is disfellowshipping themselves by their own actions. It’s a cult. And that’s what should be highlighted about articles such as these, the warning part — IT’S A CULT!

  24. Rene says:

    Enough with the JW’s let there children die, and that they are a death cult, and they are the worst for not accepting blood, its starting to sound like a broken record. The fact is that as an organization they have not only researched, but also explained in detail the reasons why they feel this way, they also have gone to the extent of finding alternative medical procedures, and fighting for the legal right to do so. They also show that they are looking for the best for there fellow brother by describing in detail the different choices available, and where to find them. How is that a death cult? It just goes to show you again that most people who are against the JW’s are either misinformed or disgruntled ex members

  25. Rudy says:

    250,000 Jehovah’s Witnesses have died since 1945 due to the No blood transfusion ban of “whole blood”.You can’t fool the general population of readers on this as we all hear about the deaths on the news all the time.

    Jehovah’s Witnesses have NO Public Charity once in a while like in hurricane Katrina they will send out a few crews to rebuild members homes (and collect the insurance money).

    Then they exaggerate it 10X to uses as propaganda.
    Where is the JW charity? No pantries,missions for poor nothing at all.
    The fact that the Watchtower society has Shills who systematically post false propaganda is a testimony to their calculated deceit.

  26. Margarett says:

    Blood became medically obsolete a long time ago.

    Too bad the danger didn’t.

    One blood transfusion wiped out Paul Michael Glasers family. It could have taken him also. (His son is on intensive treatment for hiv)

    Thats one famous family, one transfusion. One crisis (AIDS) of which there are many blood crisis.

    If the statistics of death from blood transfusion ever come out of the denial file, they will overwelm even the lie statistics of death from refusal.

    For the real statistics on any negative outcomes from refusing blood, controlled studies are better. Google Bloodless Hospitals. In existence for decades, these report no such grim statistics.

    Judge a tree by its ‘own’ leaves. Please request our brochure “How Can Blood Save Your Life.” Regards. M

  27. Jane Dough says:

    There are risks with any medical treatment. And yes, bloodless treatment has advanced because of the problems with blood. What happened to Paul Michael Glaser’s wife happened, what – 20 yrs ago? For one story like that there are thousands that tell the stories of life and survival. It’s one thing to have something beyond your control happen to you, but it’s another thing to MAKE something happen to you by your own action or inaction.

    It’s quite a different thing to have an elective surgery with a plan to use non-blood substitutes than it is to show up in the ER after an accident and choosing to bleed out. It absolutely should be up to a person’s conscience as to how they manage their own medical care – a religion shouldn’t have a say at all.

    Bottom line is still – there are no edicts to not have a blood transfusion in God’s word. The WT doctrine is falsly projecting something God has never said! You can take verses out of context to build a case all day long, but that doesn’t make it right or true.

    Not disgruntled – that’s a laugh – just have had my eyes opened. It’s a good thing.

    The WatchTower Bible and Tract Society is a publishing company fronted by an heretical religion. Is it any wonder they’ve gone so far off track from Christianity and feel they have the God-given authority to intervene in one’s personal health management? CULTS are like that.

  28. marcus says:

    “Bottom line is still – there are no edicts to not have a blood transfusion in God’s word.”

    Just like there arent any edicts not to commit wire fraud, drink and drive, or video tape naked children.

    Man’s ever changing technology doesn’t change God’s standards. We can only use the principles in the bible as a guide. And there are principles which state not to take in blood. Yes, by consuming via the mouth, but would snorting blood up your nose be any different?

  29. Jake Gill says:

    I have a couple of challenges for two statistics frequently provided:
    1st statistic: 250000 (or insert your assertion here) deaths caused by refusal of blood transfusion.

    Can you provide a reference to modern studies that would confirm this? Keep in mind that studies are showing that many scenarios in which blood is used introduce risk without benefit. These risks do not emerge with the study, but were always there. This has nothing to do with alternatives being available or not. For example, unknowingly drinking poisoned water does not become risky only when non-poisoned water is available. The risk is always there. It is only unknown. Hence, saying 250,000 people died because of not receiving a blood transfusion must be substantiated by modern evidence. This does not require that you provide case by case evidence, only that this number is verified by a modern credible medical source that, given a reasonable range (ie +10/-10) that a large portion would have survived. The medical source should also give an idea as to several of the general scenarios (ie trauma, cancer, heart surgery) that this number covers.

    Once you can substantiate the above, you still must recognize the medical conclusions or hypothesis many modern medical doctors/researchers are coming to. That is that, recognizing a high percent of blood transfusion were/are given unnecessarily or without replenishing vital elements (ie nitric oxide) blood transfusions are likely the CAUSE of many deaths and complications. This is not just the “1:10000000” risk of aids (referring to only single unit transfusion, not to the ratio of units) but of all the risks associated. In short, “life-saving” blood transfusions have likely caused more deaths than blood avoidance has. So what confirmation can you give that these 250,000 mostly fall in to the “necessary blood transfusion” category.

  30. Jake Gill says:

    2nd statistic: 1/3rd of trauma patience die of bleeding out

    This is less of a challenge than pointing out that, even if true, by itself is meaningless. What percentage of these 1/3rd received blood transfusion? In medical studies, what is the ratio of trauma patience dying due to bleeding out when receiving blood transfusion as opposed to the ratio of patience dying due to bleeding out with focus simply on stopping bleeding and restoring pressure? Your response may not be based on studies as I don’t believe any in depth study has yet been completed though it is likely possible to get reasonable hypothesis and consensus based on recent discoveries. Also, the types injuries are an important factor. For example, if the 1/3rd refers to people who were practically cut in half, then really blood transfusion is a non-factor all together. I know this is an exaggeration but serves to point out that the type of injury is important in determining of whether the “1/3rd” assertion has any bearing what-so-ever in the dialogue, or simply included to be prejudicial.

    These challenges are NOT to prove blood transfusions are proven to be completely unnecessary medically speaking, but rather to prove whether you are trying to prejudice others to support your own bias. If you can’t provide more substantial backing to your assertions in an open forum, can you really find fault with those that do not give you answers that meet your satisfaction just because it is not the answer you want? If you expect others to blindly accept what you say as absolute truth without such evidence, can you really reasonably condemn or belittle others that you claim are doing the same thing when going along with JW belief? You come across as trying to win followers for yourself rather than actually provide any valuable insight.

    As for any giving personal experiences where a doctor or a few doctors said that someone will or did die because of no transfusion, this does not prove anything as evidence shows approximately half of transfusions are given when they should not be given. A doctors own predisposed habit or hospitals culture may play a huge part of what they are saying as much or more so than evidence. One Harvard study indicated doctors make evidence based decisions 15% of the time. So can even a well meaning doctors expert opinion, even if shared by several colleagues, be given the status of absolute truth? If so, then doctors would never have started washing their hands between the morgue and birth rooms.

  31. Jane Dough says:

    It doesn’t matter if blood transfusions had a 100% mortality rate – a religion should not dictate a person’s moral decisions for their own health care. It should be totally up to that person’s freewill and conscience to choose for themselves. The only religions that coerce their members to adhere to their particular peculiar mandates about health care, and enforce those mandates through fear of shunning and disfellowshipping – are CULTS!

  32. Jake Gill says:

    Though those that hate the JW would agree with your cult comment, much of their accusations stem from the fact that JW’s are killing people with their stand. The “facts” supplied do not support the conclusion.

    Since dietary issues are a matter of health and eating of blood has not been shown to be detrimental to health, your issue is not with JW’s being a cult; it is with followers of Judaism/Christianity being a cult. Or do you get to dictate where the line is drawn in health care?

    I am addressing those who accuse this religion of causing death. You are now changing it to be an issue that even if everything they do is beneficial to health, they are a cult simply because their doctrines touch on health. I wonder what your motive is, if not just to condemn them no matter what evidence is presented, or the central topic is.

    And for those that brought up Trauma requiring blood transfusion, a doctor from New Jersy Institute, a top hospital for low mortality and complications as well as the most top rated (by peer review) doctors in the North Jersey for 10 years running made a comment referring to using bloodless techniques as being beneficial for trauma. This is of course referring to whole blood which is what is most commonly used in Trauma. The doctor was commenting on this because the US just gave this hospital 4.6 million to train the military surgeons in bloodless surgery. What do you think? Many Trauma situations in the battle field? No doubt some will point out that a reason is because of lack of blood on the field. This is no doubt true but was not stressed over other factors. One of the big reasons stated was to save money. Do you think the Government now is willing to risk survival in trauma situations just to save money, avoiding “life saving” blood transfusions? Not likely, as complications and health risks of blood transfusions were also stressed as important factors for the investment.

    Again, are the risks associated with blood transfusions so minimal that they are negligible compared with the benefits? No one has provided any evidence to support this assertion? The evidence from medical sources is proving the trend to be the opposite.

    I found someone posted a report to YouTube. It does not contain all the information on the 4.6 million investment but you can do a quick search and find full details. But if you prefer not to question your prejudices, I don’t recommend doing this. For the majority though, I’m sure you’ll appreciate it as food for thought.

    One poster that made an assertion that these advancements have nothing to do with JW’s (specifically “All these are scientific advancements that come on their own.”). Look up what moved most of the hospitals with bloodless programs to develop these programs. You will find many positive references to JW’s stand as to pushing doctors to challenge their early pro-blood stand. It was not initially because they agreed with JW’s stand, rather in spite of it. In other words, they were not otherwise interested in investigating alternatives. It may (or may not) be true that advancements would have been made anyways, but it would not be happening nearly as soon. Even now, with all the evidence, the facilitator of the expert panel I referred to said acceptance by medical doctors of blood avoidance is likely to be slow in spite of the evidence of many risks associated with blood transfusion. If you could supply a link showing Red Cross involvement in promoting the decrease in blood transfusions and preference of alternatives, that would be awesome. I did a search on Red Cross site and, though it was pretty quick, found nothing promoting a move from blood. Again, I’m not saying it does not exist, but a source would do much to show that your motivations are not simply to promote prejudice. The American Red Cross did monitor this expert panel that found 40-60% of blood transfusions are unnecessary in US yet I was unable to find them using such info to promote awareness amongst doctors to avoid using it unnecessarily. Why not, if they don’t want to waste blood? Australia Red Cross on the other hand I commend for its advertising awareness right in the hospitals.

  33. Jane Dough says:

    Or do you get to dictate where the line is drawn in health care?

    Yes, I do! Everyone has the right to choose for themselves. If a religion demands obedience in areas of my life that I feel they have no right to authority, then I should leave that religion. That’s what I did. I do not hate JWs at all, but the power structure of that organisational cult I cannot stand. That’s my last word, since it has nothing to do with anything else you’ve offered. Your research is excellent, but it is still up to each individual to choose the best medical care for themselves, and not something that should be left to any religious institution, no matter which one. :)

  34. Jake Gill says:

    I completely agree with your first sentence in response to the question but it is not only health care but every aspect of ones life that each of us have the right to decide. It is also each individuals right to determine who has what authority over ourselves in making personal decisions regarding health, sexual choices, morals, dietary considerations and so forth.

    Where many like yourself choose to go beyond making a choice for yourself in this regards is to make a blanket rule that other individuals can not believe otherwise stating or implying that the opposing view is ignorant. If one feels that their god does have the right to determine what is right and wrong in all or certain aspects of life, and truly believe that the religion represents their god’s wishes, who are you or I to make the rule they can’t make the decision that their religion CAN dictate issues related to health. As I stated before, dietary considerations are related to caring for ones health. You would limit their decision by saying they must recognize your decision as a blanket rule.

    That is not to say that when there is proof such a stand is dangerous, those with authority should not step in. I realize in your comment you are not taking a stand on whether the health care you choose has to be deemed safe or dangerous, but those that have made the assertion that turning down blood is dangerous choose not to back up empty, out of date or out of context statistics when challenged. These are the ones that the remainder of my post is addressing.

    I do not challenge your right to choose for yourself, only the idea that those that feel differently should not have the right to choose or that their choice is less valid by being accused of being part of a cult.

  35. Kitty says:

    Attention all Jehovha’s Witnesses. I just heard from a very reliable source that a brother in the writing dept say’s there will be new light on the blood issue published this summer. He hinted around to the fact that it will now be a concience matter.

  36. Jman says:

    Interesting comment Kitty. Although I doubt that any ‘new light’ will directly say ‘taking whole blood or its components’ is a conscience matter – at least not with such direct wording.

    Nonetheless that really is the issue, is it not? I mean – imperfect men have been dictating what ‘is’ and ‘is not’ a conscience matter with regards potentially life-saving medical treatments.

    I am a very active Jehovah’s Witness. I could verify it – but since every poster just has to take each others word for it…I have just one question for my fellow Jehovah’s Witnesses:

    If this principle of blood transfusions being prohibited is so absolutely clear in the Bible, why did Jehovah’s Witnesses not see it so ‘perfectly clear’ until the mid 1940s? i.e Why did those who took blood transfusions as well as those who gave blood prior to 1945 (really 1961) not suffer congregation/family expulsion? Did those Witnesses who taught it’s ok and accepted blood transfusions prior to 1945 lose their approved status before God since this teaching should have been so ‘perfectly clear’?

    My point is not to debate whether the ‘light got brighter’ as it were – but to try and understand why we claim ‘IT’S SO CLEAR’ in the Bible when it has not always been ‘so clear’. I mean in the same scripture that prohibits eating blood it also prohibits fornication. You don’t see a lot of back and forth comments on news articles / web-comment-boards about fornication and Jehovah’s Witness controversial view of it. You don’t have ‘no-fornication cards’ that you carry around with you that have pre-printed words to remind someone pressuring you that you’re a Jehovah’s Witness, so sorry – you don’t accept acts of fornication. You don’t have a ‘fornication brochure and videos presenting fornication alternatives’. What about a Fornication Liaison Committee – no need for those right? Why not? Because the scriptures in the Bible make that point clear. Since the beginning of the modern-day organization, fornication has always been condemned – no serious Bible student would try and and claim that ‘fornication is a conscience matter’.

    But yet the medical use of blood from vaccines, to fractions, to blood transferred in organ transplants, to the fact that white blood cells are transferred during breast feeding – makes the following point an absolute truth that no honest JW could disagree with:

    The command on ‘abstaining from blood’ with regards to blood in medical uses, including transfusion, has not always been ‘SO PERFECTLY CLEAR’ now has it? Especially when one looks at it in harmony with God’s view of life and the context of the ‘blood’ scriptures as they’re related to food products only.

    The point is, IT IS NOT A CLEAR TEACHING FROM THE BIBLE. Now before JW haters start jumping on the bandwagon and cheering this comment on – I do think there is a pretty clear teaching regarding bleeding any meat we might eat. Even outside of that, it’s true one has to give consideration to God’s view of blood on a principled basis, in harmony with the entirety of the scriptures. I am also ok with those ‘taking the lead’ in the worldwide association of true Christians, to promote and uphold any evident principles found in the scriptures that reflect Jehovah and Jesus’ balanced view for life, blood, and health.

    But that brings us back to the main point – when the Bible specifies a certain command, would Jehovah the God of love, the one whose son criticized the religious leaders for their inappropriate burden of rules upon the people – would He not truly make every major command/prohibition EXTREMELY clear, as clear as fornication? Clear enough that it wouldn’t be necessary to have pages and pages of lists of acceptable blood products and non-acceptable products – determined by the same imperfect men that say prohibition of other blood parts are perfectly clear? Clear enough not to have to call a group of non-medically trained men to determine what God does and doesn’t allow in a life-threatening medical situation? I’m not saying that individuals shouldn’t think about their spirituality and their own relationship with God in the decisions they make. However every reasonable and honest person can see that it is evident that Jehovah’s Witnesses have not always felt that the blood prohibition is ‘SO CLEAR’ when it comes to the medical use of blood products. That’s just an undeniable fact.

    Therefore, could it not be concluded that the prohibition of blood transfusion and its non-biblically-defined primary components – is actually based on conclusions that not every dilligent, sincere, lover of Jehovah, Jesus, and the Bible would clearly see.

    Evidently, just a little more than half a century ago, hundreds of thousands of Jehovah’s Witnesses felt there was no such clear and explicit prohibition, even by principle. Perhaps many or some of these men who later promoted a different idea, have long since passed away. Nonetheless this teaching, has evolved, and since the 1980s some parts of blood have been deemed a conscience matter and that has even later evolved to using one’s own whole blood and its components as long as it is for a specific procedure and not stored indefinitely.

    Now if ones like Jake Gill above so choose to view the ‘blood scripture’ as pertaining to an all-out prohibition of using certain blood products in any medical way- then yes, for themselves, they should indeed be allowed to do that. However, they should recognize that not every one of Jehovah’s Witnesses has always felt that way. They should recognize that it has not always been so clear among Jehovah’s Witnesses, and with the never-ending changes and updates to the organization’s policy, the fact is, it is not so clear now. As a matter of fact, for Jake and others that love to give an explanation for the controversial policy, if it was so clear why even waste your time trying to defend it? Why not just say – ‘read Acts 15! that says all you need to know.’? The reason, and if you’re really honest with yourself you can’t argue against it, is because the policy is NOT SO CLEAR. That’s why people try to write comments about the great things that have been done within the ‘conscience range’ of transfusion alternative treatment. And let’s be perfectly clear – a lot of those alternatives do involve blood – either autologous transfusions or fractions like hemoglobin donated from homologous blood. This only reiterates that the understanding of the command on blood cannot be clearly understood without question, not in any uniform manner.

    Thus two sincere Jehovah’s Witnesses may each have a different understanding of how that scripture applies to themselves. This may include one JW individual feeling there is no scriptural conflict in accepting transfusions of whole blood whereas other Jehovah’s Witnesses may always avoid blood transfusions or blood products. But in the end, that’s between them and Jehovah, and it shouldn’t mean that either individual has left their faith.

    So – I certainly wish the organization would see ‘new light’ and just make transfusions and whole blood products a conscience matter when life/death medical situations arise. But I personally believe that the lack of clarity on the matter is overwhelming evidence that blood transfusions are indeed a conscience matter. I have thought this through well. I have not stated anywhere herein that I would take a blood transfusion though. I certainly would show my respect to all those in the medical communities that understand the risks of blood transfusions and offer alternative choices to straight-up blood transfusions. However, at this time I will not sign a document where somebody besides myself imposes their latest of many changing understandings of an UNCLEAR scripture. Do I prefer to have a health care agent that will consider all medically advised treatment options if I was out of commission? Yes.

    And when we think about it – how often do we read about a representative or spokesman for Jehovah’s Witnesses claiming that choosing to avoid blood transfusions is an ‘individual choice’. If that’s the case – Why have “pre-printed” medical cards – why not just encourage Witnesses to fill out their own DPA with the wording of their ‘individual choice’ in regards to blood transfusions. Since no such option is ever even spoken about at meetings or in Watchtower publications, how is it that it’s truly an ‘individual choice’? Isn’t it really an organization choice made in our behalf? Prove me wrong.

    Anyway – as hopeful as Kitty’s comment may make some feel, please know that such changes anytime soon are unlikely. If you are a Jehovah’s Witness like me, and you see the scriptures regarding blood and their application to life-threatening treatment in the same way as stated in Watchtower publications – then so be it. However, if you read the command on blood and don’t find the organization’s latest explation perfectly clear, then perhaps, just maybe – your conscience has a more important role than one that should be dictated by a pre-printed statement on a health proxy.

    I know one thing is the current truth right now. If a situation called upon me to choose which standard of God’s I needed to uphold: His regard for life, or his regard for blood – I would only want to make that choice by considering 1) medically trained professional’s opinions 2)ABSOLUTELY PERFECTLY CLEAR SCRIPTURES on matters of blood with no additional commentary and 3) my close and prayerful relationship with Jehovah and of course his son Christ Jesus. Most importantly that decision would be mine and mine alone. There would be no need to inform members of the congregation of my private decision. As a matter of fact, I would hold liable any congregation member that tried to violate privacy laws and inquire of my personal medical decisions. Obviously certain family members might need to be involved and they too would understand the importance of confidentiality and the legal implications of breaking such confidentiality.

    This brings us to a final but yet quite important matter. The Fear of getting disfellowshipped. Is that not really the reason many Jehovah’s Witnesses say they won’t take whole blood products? I mean really…If you were to take all those who’s conscience allows them to take approved fractions, and pretty much do anything that the Watchtower says is a conscience matter – well then – there’s probably only a handful who refuse conscience matter options. And get those initial refuters into a medical situation, would not most of them be willing to accept conscience-matter options? It goes to show that when something goes from a disfellowshipping doctrinal offense, to a non-disfellowshipping conscience matter – there is a huge likelihood that most constituents will suddenly find their conscience allowing them to engage in an activity that previously they said was their individual choice to abstain from it.

    The example here being “fractions-bad” to “fractions – conscience”. Thus here you at first have scriptural interpretation being imposed on matters, but later they become matters for individuals to decide. Were they not matters that Jehovah wanted individuals to decide all along? Did God change? No, of course not.

    But nonetheless, as it stands now and likely will for the foreseeable future – A person where evidence is brought forth showing they have taken forbidden blood products – will face a judicial committee. If this judicial committee finds the individual un-repentant, then the individual will be disfellowshipped and fellow witnesses -including family members that are Witnesses -will no longer be allowed to speak, eat, or socialize with in any way, not even saying hello, with such a person unless he later repents. It doesn’t matter if the scriptural explanation of blood transfusions was never really clear to that Witness. It’s possible that prior to becoming a Witness the individual never realized the implications of having to regard the sanctity of blood higher than God’s value of life itself. It’s possible that this person was raised a Witness and baptized younger than any Christian recorded about in the first century congregation. It may not matter to the judicial committee though – because they may think that he should have realized that failure to have a mature understanding of whatever the current explanation the organization gives the scriptures on blood, is no excuse for not abiding by the policy. It certainly depends on the committee, but the point is there is a requirement that individuals have to answer not to God – but to an organization. This becomes a fear tactic and thus a reason for people to be afraid to make a decision that is between them and God on matter with changing unclear scriptural explanations. But the truth is one can avoid being disfellowshipped, and one does not have to commit to making any medical decision prior to a situation arising.

    For me there is absolutely nothing wrong with saying to myself ‘I will uphold the one and only “blood prohibition” passage in the christian Greek scriptures. I will adhere to Acts 15:20-28 in the same way first century Christians upheld that scripture. If matters arise concerning uses of blood beyond that scripture’s clear explanation without additional commentary from uninspired writers, I will give prayerful thought and regard to all of God’s principles as applicable to my individual situation. Again if matters arise beyond what is written, it is evident that Jehovah wants me to make those decisions between him and I alone. I will carry responsibility for those decisions. It will not bother my conscience after I make an informed decision and I will never impose my conscience on others. No matter what my decision, I will not have left the faith and God alone will be my judge. I will refuse to allow any group of individuals, no matter how well-meaning or sincere, to make my choice their business or knowledge. Since the organization has always stated that the choice of not accepting whole-blood products ‘is a choice the individual makes NOT THE ORGANIZATION’, then it must also be concluded that either choice I make is not renouncing my faith. Only I (or my designated agent) can make decisions related to medical blood products in a life-threatening instance. Therefore as it is my decision to make, it is also my decision to keep. As much as the organization has said to fight off medical practitioners who attempt to force blood on you, I will likewise fight off any individual or organizational attempts to inquire of my blood choice decisions, for non-medical but especially congregational reasons. Any attempt to delve into my private decisions in regards my choice of blood or non-blood medical use by congregation or organizational representatives will be viewed as no less serious than rape. I will prosecute any individual that shares or attempts to obtain such private information to the the full extent of the law. In the US HIPPA privacy law violations are considered a criminal offense.’

    Anyway that’s how I personally handle fear of disfellowshipping. I am not advocating that others do this or think like me – however, I do think every single Witness should ask themselves the following:

    “How would you feel today if the organization never imposed an updated understanding of Acts 15 in relation to blood transfusions and never made it a disfellowshipping offense in 1961? If they left it solely as something up to each individual’s conscience, how would your personal Bible-trained conscience respond right now? If you or your child were faced with a life-threatening trauma or illness and a consensus of balanced doctors (ones supportive of transfusion-alternatives) still felt some whole blood products would give you or your child the greatest chance of living – would you give some consideration to it? Only you can answer that – but the answer is very important – because – if you say ‘Yes, I would give some consideration to it,’ then it means you are primarily upholding the blood policy due to your fear of disfellowshipping.

    If you say “No – Even if the organization came out and said it’s a conscience matter for medical use of whole blood products, I still would refuse. I would have refused even if the organization never even addressed the issue and left it’s policy as it was prior to 1945!” Then good for you, you’re making an informed decision between you and Jehovah.

    Well those are the choices for all Jehovah’s Witnesses really. They really should ask themselves those questions to test their faith. If it turns out some, maybe many, feels a primary reason they wouldn’t take whole blood is because of the Watchtower’s changed policy in 1945/1961, i.e. disfellowshipping, then it’s my opinion that the organization is more important to them than their personal relationship with Jehovah.

    But I’m not telling other Witnesses how to deal with it. I don’t know what the right way is for each individual to deal with their own lack of clarity in submitting to the organization’s current blood policy. Again for me I have personally decided to take this matter and put that completely in Jehovah’s hands. And by completely I mean 100%.

    I don’t write the branch and ask why haven’t they changed their thinking – I don’t get into it with the elders, with other congregation members, nor with my Witness family. I don’t even take this matter to non-witness family or friends, outside of my doctors. This issue is mine and mine alone. I own it.

    Here are some facts I also like to keep in mind:

    I cannot get disfellowshipped for not signing a DPA. I can even keep my congregation appointed privileges. I don’t need to promote my lack of DPA. I actually have a DPA but it’s part of my living will on file with my attorney and if anyone inquires, again it’s private and I prefer to keep it that way so as to fully exercise my attorney-client privilege.

    I cannot get disfellowshipped for not requesting help from the HLC.

    I can request help from the HLC on a limited basis and just get the information I need but keep them out of the decisions.

    I cannot get disfellowshipped for refusing to discuss this with Witnesses and elders that may ask my stance. Of course they would have no reason to as I don’t bring the subject up – ever. As I said it is mine and mine alone.

    If, by chance, ever I was asked about my stance, I would simply say. “I really don’t know why you’re asking me this. If I’ve ever given any indication that you should be concerned about me in this regard, I apologize. Whatever it was that lead you to this inquiry – was evidently a huge misunderstanding. Please rest assured that any fault there may have been of mine that contributed to this misunderstanding – well, you can consider it cleared up. And as brothers I believe that’s all we need to know. I am sure you agree.” Now if they press on I would say, “You know, an elder asked me about this very matter before. It was right before I got baptized. I answered it satisfactorily then along with almost a hundred other questions. I answered them all perfectly. Then I got baptized, just that one time. Obviously you don’t think it would be appropriate for me to get baptized again do you? No, of course you don’t. Then, please don’t take this wrong way, but I don’t think it would be appropriate for me to answer these questions again. Now how about them Yankees?”

    I cannot get disfellowshipped for refusing to answer questions I already answered perfectly prior to baptism. If pressed I kindly remind the inquisitor that I have answered such questions before to the satisfaction of many elders. I have never responded to those questions any differently since then. So unless you’re saying that I need to be re-baptized, then I’d prefer we end this antagonistic line of questioning and discuss something that reflects the trust that you and I share of each other as part of this amazing worldwide brotherhood. If you feel that can’t be done then we’ll just have to have ourselves a Paul and Barnabas moment and part ways, having little to do with each other for months or years – It really is your choice though. What’s it going to be?

    Now please note – this has never happened because of my decision to own the ever-changing blood policy, kept between myself and God.

    Of course all this- it’s not advice for others – it’s just a note of how one person handles the very unclear and changing policy regarding Jehovah’s Witnesses and whole blood products in life/death medical situations. Maybe someday it will be a real “individual choice” and not one dictated by an organization that changes it every so often. Maybe someday Witnesses can have the opportunity to make a real individual choice between them, God, and their doctors without the fear that they’d be cut out of their friends’ and families’ life if they chose to to take a an organization’s currently forbidden blood product. If it was evident that God wanted to define blood as certain fractions, but not others – If it was so clear – why all the discussion, even among Jehovah’s Witnesses after all these years. Perhaps one day, unlikely this summer, the organization’s policy toward such an unclear scripture, will ultimately be left to apply between God and his individual Witnesses based on their conscience. Until then, I, and probably many others, will wait on Jehovah. And while we wait we will take all of our medical health decisions to Him and keep it between ourselves and the doctors alone.

  37. Alex Whitehead says:

    Kitty said “I just heard from a very reliable source that a brother in the writing dept say’s there will be new light on the blood issue published this summer. He hinted around to the fact that it will now be a concience matter.”

    I would like to make it clear that for many years the decision on whether or not to accept a blood transfusion HAS (on paper) been a so-called conscience matter for Jehovah’s Witnesses.

    This is to distance the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society from legal action.

    Within the congregations however, the reality is very different. Elders are guided by letters to each body of elders, very private letters that are kept under lock and key and seldom make it into the public domain.

    This is the Watchtower policy: If a baptized Jehovah’s Witness accepts a blood transfusion, they are deemed by their action to have declared that they are no longer a Jehovah’s Witness.

    The result is an announcement during a congregation meeting (the Theocratic Ministry School) that so-and-so is no longer one of Jehovah’s Witnesses.

    ALL Jehovah’s Witnesses understand what this announcement means. It means that nobody may talk to this disfellowshipped person.

    Disfellowshipping is done in this roundabout way to avoid the legal consequences of slandering individuals and breaking up families.

    Talking about receiving a blood transfusion as being a “conscience matter” is a way to avoid legal responsibility for the resulting deaths.

    I hope this makes it clear to any readers here that this is a dangerous life-controlling cult.

  38. Mary says:

    Mike Warren said: “You say you “were” a witness 33 years. Probably not really. You would then know that it is not the society that forces anything on us, It is always a personal decision. Besides,we believe in the resurrection with our whole hearts.”

    What a liar you are Mike. It most certainly is NOT a “personal decision”, unless of course you consider the WTS standing there with a figurative gun to your head as someone making a decision freely and without fear of retribution by the Organization. Let’s see, if you take a blood transfusion to save your life, what will happen to you? You’ll be disfellowshipped, cut off from your other JW family members and life long friends will be forced to look through you as though you do not exist. In addition to this mental and emotional torture, you’ll be viewed as being “unfaithful to Jehovah” and are taught that you have now almost certainly jeapordized your eternal salvation, because you didn’t obey the idiots who came up with this ridiculous doctrine in the first place.

    So you’ll be shunned and looked down upon in this life, Jehovah will almost certainly murder you at the Big A (which is ‘right around the corner) and you’ll suffer the Second Death. Gee….I wonder why so many Witnesses view a physical death as something better than the punishment the WTS doles out to anyone who dares to disobey their screwed up doctrines.

    So please don’t try and claim that ‘no one’s forced’ to do this, because those of us that used to be in this wacky cult, know differently.

  39. Sally says:

    Jehovah wittness is not the only religion that refuse blood transfusion.

    Zoroastranism and orthodox Rastafarions also refuse bloodtransfusion.

    Also many other people that are aware about the medical risk and consequencies of blood transfusion and about bloodless treatments.

  40. JoeR says:

    Oddly enough, in more than FIFTY years I cannot recall a single Jehovah’s Witness being disfellowshipped for taking a blood transfusion. As for 250.000 thousand dying since WWII – that would mean I’d know a LOT of them. It just doesn’t add up as that would mean more than 1 in 15 or 20 Witness having died??? There haven’t been that many Witnesses since WWII – maybe 10 Million at the absolute most. You do the maths and divide 250.000 into that.

    Where does this stuff come from?

    I know this lady, in 1956, was pregnant with her third child with complications. Doctor said she needed 1) to abort the child, 2) to accept a blood transfusion and 3) if all was well she would recover in 5 months. She refused. He told her she would die. Her husband then went to a Doctor who was known to be the top of the field of surgeons, explained the situation. After an examination he said he would perform the necessary surgery, would not abort the child and would use no blood.

    As she laid in the 3rd floor of the hospital her cousin visited here. “Did you know everybody in the hospital, all the staff and nurses are saying there is this crazy woman denying medical care and that she is going to die?” She answered from bed, “that’s me they are talking about and I am NOT denying medical care.”

    Indeed the surgery went ahead, the child, a boy, was delivered by caesarian and not aborted, and no blood was used. She was out of hospital in three weeks.

    How do I know this much in detail? Because it was my Mother and the child was… me!!!

    Actually it wasn’t, but it could have been. It was my younger brother by five years and now he has three children of his own.

    He should have been dead – and it COULD have been me!!!

    There are many lessons to be learned from above. For some insane reasons Jehovah’s Witnesses ALWAYS end up with the BEST doctors. That can’t be bad. There ARE benefits from taking a stand you believe in.

    Another lesson, my Mother DID have a transfusion, indeed not a “blood” transfusion.

    The notion that somebody, as they say above, “bleeds out” is also rather silly. Some may know about a friend of mine, his name is David Winder, who was literally standing on a bomb loaded with six inch nails under the platform while giving a talk – in 1985 Lurnea, Sydney. He was found hundreds of feet away and the building had literally been destroyed around him. He was stabilised while having lost maybe as much as 80% of his blood and at least 70%. I have spoken to a number of Doctors about this – and the first thing is STOP the BLEEDING, then stabilise and use a non-blood transfusion – a blood expander – to prevent the patient from going into SHOCK.

    Any plumber will understand this – keep the pressure up and keep the circulation going. David was then air lifted to Westmead Hospital.

    The emergency services do NOT carry blood when called to an emergency or accident. It really doesn’t matter what blood type you are, they don’t know. So they carry volume expanders, basically medically prepared fluid, and that is indeed used as a transfusion. No objection whatsoever.

    At the hospital and recovering, David’s blood count was extremely low, but he was stable. No need to worry as with the evidence Doctors had of previous JW patients they KNEW that patients could survive with even lower blood counts than that. What was more important was David’s injuries and the possibility of infection. He survived and indeed saw him last month. Took him many years to learn to walk again.

    Can you guys see the picture this paints?

    Please desist with much of the alarmist insinuations, much of what happens to JWs is no more or less than what you would wish to you. Avoid the need for a “blood” transfusion simply makes for good medicine. Since the outbreak of AIDS in the early 80’s much of the medical fraternity has slowly but rightly changed its previous cavalier attitude towards blood. They have drawn from earlier and later experiences they have had with the Witnesses and EVERYBODY has benefited.

    These days all surgeries are made using some form of cauterising knife, which were perfected by brave Doctors who dared to respect the views of JWS (often at the risk of their reputation). There are names of these Doctors and Surgeons who effectively became pioneers of modern surgery. Check out the book by Gene Church “No Man’s Blood” about a Californian Jewish (not JW) surgeon Ron Lapin who risked everything to help out the Witnesses. His advances in surgery became so important that many countries suggested him for the Noble Prize. While his patients became exclusively JWs, his work has saved thousands and I would venture tens of thousand of lives (and even that may be unbelievably conservative). Have you had surgery in the last 20 years? Chances are you have had a benefit.

    Nobody minds criticism, provided it is fair.


  41. JoeR says:

    Book Review of “No Man’s Blood” by Gene Church:

    “I first read the book in 1986. Mr. Church writes about a Jewish surgeon, named Ron Lapin, who became one of the earliest doctors to agree to do bloodless surgery on Jehovah’s Witnesses. A few of them went to Mr. Lapin and told him that as a group they wanted medical treatment like anyone else might, including heart surgery, brain surgery etc.etc.

    “They explained to him that they could not find a doctor willing to do the major surgeries unless they could give them blood. They explained to him their belief in God and how God says over 200 times in the bible not to eat blood. And that it is a commandment given to gentiles in Acts 15:20.

    “Well he thought about it and he knew that as a Jew he wouldn’t want anyone to make him eat pork! He agreed to treat them without blood.

    “One of the first things he noticed was how quickly they healed versus if he had given them blood. He only lost one patient because she was in another state and they didn’t get her to him in time.

    “Doctor Lapin also became the first surgeon to use an electric knife on his patients. Here is how that happened.

    “On week-ends he used to keep in practice by operating on animals, where he could use an electric knife. He noticed that when he made incisions using it that there was hardly any blood loss, because the cut was so smooth that cauterization immediately took place whereas if he had used just a regular scapel there is a lot of blood loss.

    “He went around and around with the powers that be and finally was allowed to use an electric knife on his human patients. Also when he first started doing bloodless surgeries he was fired from several hospitals because he wouldn’t use blood on his Jehovah’s Witness patients.

    “When I read the book, at that time there was over 1000 doctors in California that he had trained in bloodless surgery. I believe he was practicing in Orange County at the time. The book is a very enteresting read.”

  42. totallycritical says:

    Using the fact that bloodless surgery has benefits over using blood is completely irrelevant! ALL treatments have an associated risk and all treatments could benefit from research into risk reduction, that has never been in question.

    No doubt bloodless surgery has some benefits, maybe even in a lot or most cases, but definitely not ALL cases. Is research into those benefits worth the lives that have been lost? Are JW paying with their lives for “future lives saved” by the research that will result? That’s a valid question that Science and medicine ALREADY FACES all the time.

    Progress no doubt HAS been made into bloodless surgery because of the stand JW take, they have offered themselves as “live guinea pigs” and many have lost their lives because of it. But there are very few if any medical treatments that would not benefit from research conducted on live humans! However if the risk of death is too high we call it UNETHICAL to carry out that kind of research! That’s why we have ethics committees on clinical trials. If a course of treatment or research carries a high degree of risk it is not allowed to proceed because it is unethical to experiment on live people. Obviously JW believe that God has different ethical standards to us. JW believe it is ethical to sacrifice them selves and their children for their “faith”.

    The main difference is Science is WILLING to have the debate. Science is willing to weigh up the options, the pros and cons, to look at the risks and investigate possible alternatives, that’s what science does all the time. What science won’t do is completely rule out a proven and viable course of action just because of a dogma not based on any real evidence.

  43. Ross says:

    What people fail to see is that all the JW knockers comments only apply if the JW’s are wrong in this stand. What if they are right. The bible shows that this life is not all there is, that if you lose this life obeying god, whatever that stand may be for, you gain it. Blood belongs to god, because the life is in the blood and it belongs to god. Maybe JW’s are erring on the side of caution, but there is definitally a sacred quality given to blood in the bible. maybe there is a reason we dont know why god does not want us to take the life force of another being into our system. Both the christian and hebrew scriptures do state that blood should not be partaken of. If a christain right or wrong loses this life to uphold his belief on this matter, surely god will see the strength of his faith and reward the fact that he was willing to lose his life for god.

  44. Ross says:

    Blood transfusions raise heart patients’ infection and death risk — especially women
    New finding helps ‘connect the dots’ of a women-specific medical mystery
    ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Blood transfusions save the lives of millions of heart surgery patients and others each year. But a new study suggests that patients who receive transfusions during heart bypass surgery have a higher risk of developing potentially dangerous infections, and dying, after their operation.
    In fact, this increased risk may help explain a longstanding medical mystery: why women bypass patients are more likely than men to die in the first few months after surgery. Women are more likely to receive blood during heart bypass operations, which are performed on more than 465,000 Americans each year.
    The findings, from the Patient Safety Enhancement Program (PSEP) at the University of Michigan Health System, are based on data from 9,218 Michigan bypass patients. After adjusting for factors such as the urgency of the operation, those who received blood transfusions from donors were five times more likely to die within 100 days of their operation than those who did not.
    The paper is published in the December issue of the American Heart Journal. It builds on a previous U-M analysis that found that a difference in infection rates accounted for the difference in death risk between men and women bypass patients.
    The U-M team, with the help of Neil Blumberg, M.D., of the University of Rochester Medical Center, focused on blood transfusions as a contributing factor. Prior research has shown that recipients of stored donor blood have more post-surgical infections, and that women receive more transfusions because they tend to have lower hemoglobin concentrations.
    This new study connects the dots. “To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study to state that allogeneic transfusions may be the reason why women have a greater post-bypass surgery mortality risk than men,” says author Mary A.M. Rogers, Ph.D., M.S., PSEP, research director and research assistant professor of internal medicine. Allogeneic is the term for blood from another person.
    The authors strongly note that blood transfusions can be life-saving, and that the infections observed in this study are not likely due to contamination of the blood. Rather, they may be due to other factors, including the patient’s immune response to substances such as white blood cells that are present in stored donor blood. These findings may help guide hospitals and blood banks in deciding whether to filter donated blood to reduce the levels of white blood cells. This practice is increasingly common, but not yet universal, in the United States.
    The study is based on analysis of data from all Medicare beneficiaries ages 65 and older who had coronary artery bypass operations in Michigan in a single year.
    The researchers performed statistical analyses that took into account the patients’ blood transfusion status, their co-existing diseases, age, race, sex, and whether the bypass operation was done on an elective, urgent or emergency basis. They looked at infections and deaths that were reported during the 100 days after surgery.
    In all, about 88 percent of women received an allogeneic blood transfusion during bypass surgery, compared with nearly 67 percent of men. When the researchers adjusted for other factors, women were 3.4 times as likely as men to receive blood. This gender difference was evident regardless of whether the operation was elective, urgent or emergency.
    The odds of having an infection of any kind were about three times greater in patients who received allogeneic blood than in patients who did not. The more blood they received, the higher their infection risk. This “dose dependent” relationship strengthens the evidence that transfusions may be related to infections.
    No single type of infection stood out as more common among blood recipients, which suggests a body-wide immune response issue rather than a problem, for example, at the site of the incision.
    The analyses revealed that women were more likely to experience an infection than men after bypass surgery, which appeared to be due to the increased number of transfusions in women. This resulted in an increased mortality rate in women. Overall, 9 percent of women and 6 percent of the men died within 100 days of their operation.
    For patients who had banked their own blood ahead of the operation and who received only their own blood, the infection risk was similar to that of patients who received no blood transfusions. Rogers notes that patients should ask their doctors regarding banking their own blood if possible, when scheduled for a bypass operation or other kind of surgery.
    In addition, physicians are increasing their use of transfusion alternatives such as blood “expanders,” blood substitutes and blood-conserving procedures during bypass surgeries.
    The results also highlight the importance of the proper use of antibiotics and infection control practices in patients hospitalized for a surgical procedure, says Rogers.
    The U-M team is investigating the issue further, including a new study funded by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation to extend the research into elderly patients who recently underwent bypass surgeries in Michigan.
    In addition to Rogers and Blumberg, the study authors included PSEP director Sanjay Saint, M.D., MPH; Catherine Kim, M.D., MPH; Brahmajee Nallamothu, M.D., MPH; and Kenneth Langa, M.D., Ph.D. It was funded by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Veterans Affairs, the John A. Hartford Foundation and a Paul B. Beeson Physician Faculty Scholars in Aging Research award.
    Reference: American Heart Journal, Volume 152, Issue 6, Pages 1028-1034 (December 2006).
    Patients who received blood platelet transfusions during coronary bypass surgery were more likely to have prolonged hospital stays, longer surgeries, more bleeding and higher risk of infection, stroke and death, according to an international study led by the Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center.
    The findings, published in the August issue of Transfusion, the official journal of the American Association of Blood Banks, contribute to increasingly scientific evidence that blood transfusions do not always improve outcomes from surgery.
    “Although this analysis cannot prove that platelet infusions caused the increases in adverse events examined, the data are sobering and should be taken into account when determining the risk-benefit ratio of platelet transfusion therapy,” says Dr. Bruce D. Spiess, professor of anesthesiology and lead author on the article. “Prophylactic platelet transfusion appears from this study to increase the risk for serious adverse outcomes in coronary artery bypass graft patients.”
    The study examined data collected during six randomized, double-blinded Phase III clinical trials conducted from January 1990 through May 1995 at 37 medical centers in the United States, Denmark and Israel for licensure by the Food and Drug Administration of aprotinin, a drug sold by Bayer Corp. under the trade name Trasylol to control bleeding during surgery and avoid the need for transfusions. Data from patients in a pilot study also were included.
    Of the 1,720 adult patients analyzed, 284 patients (14.4 percent of the total) received blood platelet transfusions during coronary artery bypass graft surgery, which is a common procedure used to improve blood flow and alleviate chest pains. In coronary artery surgery, doctors remove a clear vein or artery from a leg, arm or the chest and use it to detour blood flow around a blocked artery. Because about 20 percent of coronary bypass patients suffer abnormal bleeding, blood platelets often are given after surgery to prevent or treat bleeding.
    The retrospective analysis showed that death was greater than five times more likely to occur in patients receiving platelet transfusions, and stroke was at least three times more likely to occur compared with patients who did not receive transfusions. In addition:
    • The operation was almost one hour longer for patients receiving a platelet transfusion than for those not receiving one.
    • Almost 20 percent of patients who received platelet transfusions returned to surgery for re-exploration compared with a 2 percent re-operation rate for those who did not receive platelets.
    • The amount of bleeding and length of time in the hospital were greater in the group who received transfusions.
    “Blood transfusions may do more harm than good in virtually every instance except trauma,” says Spiess. “Blood transfusions increase the risk of pneumonia, infections, heart attacks and strokes. Patients who don’t have transfusions often do better.”
    Platelets are blood cells that strengthen blood vessel walls, help blood to clot and help stop bleeding from cuts. Since the early 1980s, concentrates of platelets increasingly have been used in transfusions, surpassing use of such other blood products as red blood cells and whole blood.
    At the same time, however, questions have been raised about the risks of transmission of infectious diseases by blood platelet transfusions. Platelet products also contain a high concentration of donor white blood cells, which can suppress the immune system and increase the risk of infections. A European study of 3,500 patients in intensive care units published in 2002 found that the death rate for critically ill patients who received transfusions was twice as high as those who did not get blood.
    As a result of these concerns and the high cost of blood platelets, scientists have been working to develop alternatives to blood platelet transfusion, such as drugs to control bleeding and mechanical devices that can collect a patient’s own whole blood during surgery for transfusion, if necessary. Some patients also store several units of their own blood before surgery.
    Spiess says he is working with his colleagues to reduce the use of transfusions during surgeries at the VCU Medical Center by 30 percent or more.
    In addition to Spiess, researchers from Harvard Medical School, Emory University, the University of Oklahoma, Harefield Hospital in London, Munich Heart Institute in Germany and the University of Western Ontario, as well as Bayer Corp., participated in the analysis.

    God knows best, he made us!

  45. karina says:

    First of everything Jehovah Witness arent the ones that decide how to live their life we live according to the bible and the bible refuses all blood so we do. We do accept other alternatives. That women is not a jehovah witness because first of all she mentioned that god would take away her life. A jehovah witness would never say that. Like every other religion there is people who are into it completely and some who are there just to be there. In this case this person was not a jehovah witness and if she was, she was never fully commited to the bible since god doesnt take life from anyone

  46. Kristy says:

    First of all- just so my position is clear- I was raised in a JW household but have never been baptized myself. I do, however, believe in their teachings (which is saying something, because I have a particular OCD that makes me scrutinize and prove every claim to myself before accepting it.)

    The point of abstaining from blood first arose in Noah’s time, when eating meat became permitted due to the flood (and was permitted thenceforth.) Gen. 9:4 “But you must not eat meat with its life (that is, its blood) in it.” (BTW, I didn’t put in the parenthesis in the quote.)

    JW’s position is that blood transfusions are the same as eating blood, that it violates the sacredness of blood. It is their belief that forgiveness of sins and the ability to stand in an approved state with God is dependent on excersizing faith in Jesus’ ransom sacrifice- his shed blood. Violating the sacredness of blood is like turning your back on that sacrifice.

    I don’t know that I’ve explained this correctly or sufficiently for some, but I hope people can respect the devotion of JW’s even if you don’t agree with their beliefs. It seems every time I see TV medical show using anti-blood in one of their plots, the beliefs and qualities of JW’s is rendered inaccurately. So please don’t take television’s word for what JW’s are really like.

  47. Barbara says:

    You make me weep.

    Questions in life are so much more complex than any of you portray.
    I myself am not going to argue about the answers.

    To the Jehovah’s Witnesses: there is no reason of believe that blood products are not, in the eyes of God, equivalent to blood. There is also no reason to believe that God’s prohibitions re. eating blood extends to transfusions.

    Scientists and protestors: there are dangers to blood products. Also, faith and belief can kill faster than biological illness.

    Please, look at one another as fellow human beings: frightened, educated in a specific way, needing each other. Can’t we reach an understanding?

    And if people die for what they believe, then they die. The preservation of the self-concept is more important by far than the preservation of life. Dying is not a problem. We all die. And chidren die too, every day. So if people choose to die because of beliefs, so be it.
    We have to understand that the human race is complex and decisions will be made that we disagree with. We have to move beyond our own paradigm and
    accept that others have a different idea from us.

    The only issue that should be discussed here is whether life is more significant than belief and, if so, whether belief is logically based.

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