February 5, 2007
Dear Ms. DiManno:
As an advocate for many a JWs who have been hurt by this organization, I just wish to say your article and comments in the Toronto Star were great.
You may also be interested in reading the press release by the Associated Jehovah’s Witnesses for Reform on Blood (www.ajwrb.org) - http://www.ajwrb.org/Press_Release_070202.pdf
A lot of people do not realize that JWs can take one hundred (100) percent of human or animal blood as long as it is in their leadership's defined fractionated form or under their leadership's approved medical procedures (www.ajwrb.org). In fact, if whole donated blood was 100 percent fractionated and then transfused completely back to the patient at the same time in its separate forms, the JW leadership would accept the procedure. Unfortunately the technique has not been mastered in the medical world to save Witness lives. On page 22 of the June 15, 2004 Watchtower magazine (official publication for the Witnesses), the leadership actually provides a chart of what is and what is not acceptable.
Oddly, the leadership also allows Witnesses to take in white blood cells from another human during the course of a baby breast feeding from the mother but bans certain life saving white blood cell transfusions from the donated blood supply. The JW leadership does not discuss allowing white blood cell transfers during breast feeding while banning white blood cell transfers through transfusion therapy. You may wish to quiz the JW leadership or spokesperson on the issue.
This leadership has been changing their doctrine many times (http://www.ajwrb.org/history/index.shtml#modern). In fact the leadership supported blood therapy before 1940.
Today, the leadership bases their interpretation on certain science and medicine literature. In support of its logic, the leadership sites the breakdown of blood in "Emergency Care" (a textbook for emergency medical technician students). The Associated Jehovah's Witnesses for Reform on Blood (www.ajwrb.org) indicate that scientifically, the breakdown is neither authoritative nor definitive. Alternatively, consider the list of major blood components as listed in Modern Blood Banking and Transfusion Practices (pages 237-248, 1999) by Denise M. Harmening, Ph.D. "Red blood cells, RBC Aliquots, Leukocyte-reduced red blood cells, frozen - deglycerolized red blood cells, platelet concentrate, single donor plasma, cryoprecipitated antihemophilic factor, granulocyte concentrates, factor VIII concentrate, porcine factor VIII, factor IX concentrate (Prothrombin Complex), immune serum globulin, normal serum albumin, plasma protein fraction, Rho(D) immunoglobulin, antithrombin III concentrate". It is noteworthy that of the sixteen major blood components listed in this definitive and widely respected textbook on transfusion medicine, nine are definitely permitted by Jehovah's Witnesses policy.
Just think about haemoglobin for a second. Ninety seven (97) percent by weight of a red blood cell (ie. haemoglobin) is allowed to be used by a JW in a medical procedure but add just three (3) more percent (ie. a membrane) and the product is banned.
You may wish to ask the leadership where in the Bible does it state red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets or plasma are not approved blood therapies but haemoglobin, albumin and the many other blood therapy products or blood transfusion therapies such as Intraoperative Autotransfusion (http://www.ajwrb.org/basics/what.shtml ) are allowed?
No one wants blood therapy if it can be avoided. But, there are times when this procedure helps to sustain life and prevent premature death as any medical doctor will tell you. Since the leadership is asking their members to make a life sacrifice or face harmful shunning by families and friends, it is important for the leadership to be honest and transparent on what they teach.
A lot of times the lawyers for the JW family (which in reality are from the Watchtower's Georgetown Ontario complex) will comment about how blood is very dangerous or that it is not medically necessary. A lot of people buy into the argument and I am glad you called them on it in your report. A lot of times people including the press miss the point that blood transfusions are life saving therapies that save thousands of lives every year and that the past stored blood crisis was not caused by the blood itself but by certain individuals who decided not to properly test the blood.
Hell, there is even horseshoe crab blood in our life saving Intravenous (IV) solutions (http://www.jehovahs-witness.com/16/109245/1.ashx) but you don't hear the JW leadership freaking over the use of Intravenous (IV) Solutions!
If you would like to speak to a lawyer knowledgeable on the subject please contact Kerry Louderback-Wood at xxxxx . She has already provided information in a recent CP story and published a lengthy legal report on the issue in the United States of America.
Take care and feel free to contact me if you need something further,