Why do Jehovah's Witnesses Not Accept Blood Transfusions?
A True Story....
Watching two parents torn over saving the life of their baby or letting it die for want of a blood transfusion was one of the most horrible experiences of my career as a blood banker. They chose death for that baby rather than an exchange transfusion of blood which would have saved its life. We all stood there watching the baby in its death throes. I was acting as a legal representative as our hospital had tried desperately to get an injunction to treat the baby without the parent’s permission. The judge actually granted the injunction, but it was too late. The baby died a horrible death. The baby had no say so about it.
Jehovah’s Witnesses have an inordinate amount of faith in the bible regarding the use of blood and blood products. The use of blood products is deemed to be against God’s will and will condemn the recipient to "de-fellowship" and ostracism. Somewhere in the books of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus and Acts, there are some statements that prohibit the use of blood as interpreted by JW’s. I can well imagine that 3,000 years ago, blood was certainly not safe, it wasn’t touted for transfusions and it may have been used by assorted groups for nefarious reasons. Who knows?
I have been an Immunohematologist (Blood Banker/Transfusion Services) for over 34 years. I am considered an expert in my field and have had to refuse many a job offer due to the shortage of medical laboratory scientists with experience in blood banking. I no longer respect the JW’s right to refuse blood. And I am appalled at the ignorance of it. Religion is a good thing for most people, but for babies and children, it can be deadly.
Jehovah’s Witnesses claim to be Christians. Their cult, er, I mean sect, has some really strange ideas on how to interpret the whole Bible. That’s their right, if they are adults. But for children and children indoctrinated into this sect, it’s just downright insane. The science of blood transfusions has, in just the last 100 years, become safe and life-saving. The cellular components of blood do not contain the “soul” or "life force" anymore than your lymphatic system or your eyeball does. It's not anymore "sacred" than spit either. The JW’s have moderated their stance a bit and have admitted that JW’s do indeed partake of modern transfusion services, especially when it comes to children and cancer. They prefer fractionated components over whole blood and some of the components have been “approved” for use by JW’s.
Yet there are still ignorant, stubborn bible thumping elders that preach the ostracism of a Witness should they get a blood or blood product transfusion. There is just no placating them. Belief in the Bible is one thing, but to stand there and watch your own child die is tantamount to murder. Which as I understand it also against “God’s Laws”.
Jehovah Witness View on Blood
A Recent Hub on Darwin and Evolution...
Another hubber and historian, James A Watkins, recently published a hub regarding the classic battle between Creationists and those that think that the scientific method of proving evolution is a better model for the Origin of the Species that occupy our planet. He is in the creationist camp.
I, on the other hand, came to the conclusion that all life on this planet and perhaps even non-life is connected on a cellular level.
Just by looking at my daily work, I can see the genetic relationships between man and apes and monkeys and all other mammals. We are all related by genetics. I can put any mammal blood in my test tubes and find the genetic expression of a group and type and various other antigens and antibodies that belong to that animal. A great many are nearly identical to human blood even dogs and pigs. Genetic markers prove that we have genes in common with the apes and other creatures.
And just to throw this in - another legend from the Bible has God destroying most of mankind in a great flood. Why would they bother to save the animals if they didn't have "souls"?
Don't say for food, because many of those animals were forbidden for food in those days.
How far has evolution come?
Over the past 5.5 million earth years, evolution has really come a long way. But not far enough. Human thought processes are still in the dark ages and closed to new ways of thinking. Mankind will someday realize that religion is a faulty thought process and that time cannot come soon enough for me.
There are some open minded individuals in the world today called "atheists" or "agnostics". Fortunately, the number of people questioning the Bible and "God's" plan are growing exponentially. As the numbers grow, close minded thinking will be a thing of the past.
We will figure out how to live in harmony with our world, or we will experience extinction as another animal will dominate because man has destroyed himself. Grow up and act like adults people!
Simian Blood Groups
Two categories of blood groups, human-type and simian-type, have been found in apes and monkeys and can be tested by (the same) methods established for grouping human blood. Genetically, simian blood is quite similar to human blood and cross reactions and/or non-reactions are traceable. If you were in a land full of monkeys and Group O, Rh Negative monkey blood was available; it could theoretically save your life should you need an emergency blood transfusion. The reverse is also true. Group O, Rh Negative blood from a human can probably be given to a monkey if compatibility of blood groups and types were considered. Trans-species transfusions are not done because they aren't necessary and no one has ever studied it.
Rhesus Blood Group
The Rhesus blood system is named after the Rhesus monkey, following experiments by Karl Landsteiner and Alexander S. Wiener, which showed that rabbits, when immunized with Rhesus monkey red cells, produce an antibody that also agglutinates the red blood cells of many humans. The same genetic node of Rh type expression is found in human cells and if present, makes the blood Rh Positive. If the Rh type expression is not found, you will be classified as Rh Negative. The Rh factor is part of a whole series of genetic expressions found in monkeys and humans. Landsteiner named this series D (d), C (c), E (e), f, etcetera. The capitol letters represent the dominant genetic expression and the lowercase letters represent the recessive genetic expression. These genetic codes for blood types are common to all mammals with variations, of course because of evolution.
The Rh factor in both monkeys and humans is responsible for severe hemolytic disease of the newborn when a mother who does NOT have the Rh factor is pregnant with a baby that DOES have the Rh factor. The first pregnancy will stimulate the mother to produce antibodies to the Rh factor in the Rh positive fetus. Subsequent pregnancies will allow that antibody to cross the placenta and destroy the second and subsequent baby’s Rh positive blood. If the baby is Rh Negative no antibody stimulation or reaction will occur.
During the past 25 years, it was learned that if you gave Rh Positive blood to an Rh Negative male, it would sensitize him to produce the antibody to the Rh factor. This is called Anti-D or Rh-Immune Globulin. Then if you purify this antibody and give it to an Rh Negative female during her pregnancy, her body will be tricked into thinking that she already possesses the antibody and her body will fail to be sensitized to the baby’s Rh Positive blood. This has worked so well in fact, that Immunohematologists and obstetric doctors rarely see hemolytic disease of the newborn due to the Rh factor. We do still see HDN due to other antibody/antigen reactions, but this trick has worked to save the lives of millions of babies to date.
Logical reasons to find a better Bible!
This stubborn belief in the Bible is not restricted to Jehovah’s Witnesses by any means. Christians are supposed to be Christ-Like. Jesus himself said that the Golden Rule was to be observed over all other laws, including the unreasonable demands of the Old Testament. The Golden Rule is to treat others as you would like to be treated. By this edict, I should let JW’s bleed to death (because they would treat me that way), but as I do not wish to be treated this way, I should force them to have a life saving blood transfusion since that is how I would like to be treated.
The Golden Rule is not logical either!
How do Christians do it? Believe in and have faith in a book so full of controversy? There are a reported 38,000 denominations or sects of Christians! The Bible is so non-logical that I can hardly bear to read it. This book is at least 2,000 years old and possibly much older and written by many authors who “claimed” to be inspired by God himself with no proof of that claim other than the fact that they knew how to read and write and make the claim.
“I said God spoke through me and therefore he did!”
Yea, it’s not supposed to make sense. An invisible being told them it was his “plan” to weed out the humans who don’t deserve to be in His presence.
How can a Christian stand there and watch a baby die? How can one stand there and watch any baby die? I cannot. I will not. I will fight for the rights of those that can’t fight for themselves. Find a better Bible, Christians. One that makes sense!
Legal Stuff and Advisements...
In the comments section, I will allow references to other books, including the Bible, but NO COPYING AND PASTING OF WHOLE PASSAGES. You may paraphrase only.
Also, please restrict comments to 500 words or less and stay on the following topics:
- A Christian View of Blood
- Evolution of Blood
- Genetic expressions (Phenotype and Genotype)
- Answering any of the questions posed in this hub.
I will deny comments at my own discretion. I'm not trying to censor comments, only to mediate the direction of the comments and suggest that off topic comments be directed to another hub, preferably one that you write yourself!
What do you think?
Do you believe that Jehovah's Witnesses should deny blood transfusions to those who need them?
© 2010 Lela