Bloody Transfusions — Jehovah’s Witnesses Change of Policy

Blood. The Bible refers to this red life giving highly-complex chemical fluid in high regard, such that meat only entered mankind’s dietary allowance after The Flood, as long as the blood was poured out before consuming the flesh (Genesis 9:4).

However, I am not here to share doctrine of a religious organisation; no, I am here to expose the swaying opinions of Jehovah’s Witnesses’ policy on medical directives with the use of blood. More specifically, the directives which are issued from the members of the governing body.

Unless one has never interacted with a Jehovah’s Witness on a personal level, it may be relatively unknown to them that blood transfusions is a big no-no for members of this cult. In fact, this nugget of did-you-know information lead me down to joining this cult. That’s kind of beside the point, but does give me some accreditation on observing backwards-tracking of the numerous policies, and blood transfusions being one of them.

Blood Directives (circa. 2006)

With my interests being aroused by blood, the publication of What the Bible Really Teaches… had a lot to say on blood and its use in the chapter Show Respect for Life.

The premise of Jehovah’s Witnesses argument for not accepting blood transfusions is based on the scriptures where the early Christian body of elders instructed the Christian congregations to abstain from blood for its sacredly respect at Acts 15:28, 29 amongst other things.

Let’s assume the premise is true to treat blood the same sacredly and inspired for modern day medical treatments (because the men whom put pen to scroll surely did not know how blood worked back then). In order for the argument put forward by Jehovah’s Witnesses to hold, the premises will need to true and the argument to be sound to the scientific mind of today.

Therein lay my difficulties in trying to understand the view of blood from the above mentioned chapter. I kept on asking Jehovah’s Witnesses from every possible angle to satisfy a sound argument from the scriptures, and none prevailed.

However, the Jehovah’s Witnesses sure did have a lot of literature and videos about medical doctors expounding on the use of non-blood alternatives in medical treatment, and often referred to the video the DVD Transfusion Alternatives (Safe, No Blood Transfusion). The medical doctors argument had true premises and of sound argument with statistical evidence, I somehow tricked myself into associating that the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ doctrine argument was sound. Big mistake.

Eventually, I became known as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses and with this association, I was able to obtain the “No Blood” card which is a legal directive document. Actually, it’s subtitled “Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care.”

The primary use of the medical literature and medical videos was to assist those filling in these forms in the treatment options which one is willing to accept on their conscious. In hindsight, all those videos taught me that blood is precious and the medical field should be more careful as blood is not a commodity but a vital organ; and this showed as evidence with me permitting the use of various “alternative” blood treatments which I ticked liberally. Probably tells you I leaned more towards the science than the divine inspiration.

Blood Directives (1 April 2016)

Not an April’s Fool’s joke, but a letter was sent to all the Jehovah’s Witnesses which the blood directives have changed.

For those who are somewhat unfamiliar with the ‘understanding’ of the use of blood fractions circa. 2006, there are several subtle changes with rather large implications on Jehovah Witnesses.

The first implication is that the congregation are no longer being proactively instructed on medical treatment alternatives which are still acceptable by Jehovah’s Witnesses. Though those who are newly baptised by the organisation would be given a copy of the form and reference to the insert for reference (it’s about an A4 page), there are no proactive steps which the elders are encouraged to take, especially with concern of information around the use of blood fractions which were once up to each Jehovah’s Witness conscious.

Also implied with the query for pregnant women in the congregation to be made known to the organisation, such that careful preparation may be made for them. My only guess is that blood fractions are usually used in child-birth, especially by method of cesarean section as it would need to fool the chemical processes of giving the child the kick-start; but I will claim ignorance as a layman on this part.

It is rather unfortunate that a divine standard, or more specifically the understanding of the Biblical reference, on blood in general has changed in the last decade and seems to be going in a direction where evidence is actively destroyed such that no question of whether the divine standard has ever waivered. Such a finding by someone who is newly interested in this religion could initiate second-guesses about other doctrines which the Jehovah’s Witnesses push forward at face value.

My Personal Resolution of Blood Transfusions

Surgeons should view their craft with professionalism which it deserves. As the clients, we should demand that their performance to be exacting and that unnecessary complications are avoided. They are surgeons; not butchers.

Implementing a blood transfusion should trigger a root-cause analysis fault finding of how it should have been avoided in treating the patient. It’s a sign of human error.

As for me, I stand by the science of preventing unnecessary blood transfusions. It’s good patient care, and avoids all the potential side-effects that a blood transfusion may impose.

But as for the organisation, Jehovah’s Witnesses, they should be ashamed that they rewrite their history books over and over again on divine standards. Not like Jehovah’s Witnesses have been mute on other points, but that is for another Medium post.