Awake! magazines before 1970 are not included in the Watchtower Library CD-ROM and the June 8, 1968 Awake! is one reason why. It was a special issue entitled "Medical Experiments and Your Health." While the perils of blood transfusions are mentioned in passing, the main focus on "medical experimentation" was to criticize organ transplantation. While transplants had been going on for years, pioneer surgeons were just beginning heart transplantation and this was big news. As page 21 of this Awake! noted, Witnesses considered all transplants to be cannibalism. This had been spelled out in the November 15, 1967 Watchtower, p. 702-3:
Not to be overlooked is the use to which a dead body might be put. Would a Christian who, while living, refused to give his blood to be used as a transfusion for some other person, allow his body to be turned over to a group or to a person and possibly at that time have the blood removed and used for transfusion, as has been done with some cadavers? (See, for example, Awake! of October 22, 1962, page 30.) A person might feel that he could stipulate that his body not be used in that way; but if many persons in authority refuse to abide by a Christian’s wishes about blood when he is alive, what reason is there to believe they will show more respect for his wishes after his death? Would they use his organs in cannibalistic medical experiments?
Our bodies are the creation of Jehovah God. (Ps. 100:3; 95:6; Job 10:8) Christians might allow apparently necessary surgery to be performed, such as to remove a diseased limb, but they do not needlessly mutilate their bodies created by Jehovah. Would allowing a body to be mutilated after death be showing respect for and appreciation of God’s creation? True, in some instances there may be legal requirements that Christians abide by, such as when the law requires a postmortem examination to determine the cause of death. (Rom. 13:1, 7; Mark 12:17) In such cases the next of kin can usually request that the organs not be removed for transplant or reuse. In this way, even though an autopsy might be required, the Christian can prevent misuse of the body of a loved one. But when such laws do not apply, the Christian can decide in such a way as to avoid unnecessary mutilation and any possible misuse of the body. Thus he will be able to have a clear conscience before God.—1 Pet. 3:16.
This view that organ transplants were cannibalism was rejected in 1980 and the Watchtower Society now says that JWs face no congregational discipline if they accept or donate organs for transplantation. Oddly, however, while accepting a transplanted organ is no longer seen as cannibalism (eating human flesh), receiving a blood transfusion is still viewed as eating human blood.
This June 8, 1968 Awake! is a classic case of yellow journalism. Organ transplants are considered to be "medical experimentation." Alternatives to transplants are suggested on pp. 16-17. Organ transplants are rejected ethically, medically and scripturally. The fact that a treatment may still be beneficial at times despite potential risks is ignored. All in all, this magazine reveals the faulty science and views on medical ethics of Watchtower writers. These are the same writers who similarly rail against the medical use of blood.
A PDF of the June 8, 1968 Awake! (just over 1 MB) can be downloaded from this filesharing website: