If you guys could give me some feedback here and let me know if I'm forgetting something. Here's my article on my Tough Question number 2, regarding blood transfusions:
It’s time for another installment on how to use Tough Questions to start a conversation with Jehovah’s Witnesses. Now we get to go into a sore subject; I’m going to suggest a different approach if you’re talking to people at your door. First off let’s start with the text of my Tough Question regarding blood:
This is probably a sore subject, but I figure it's one that most people seem to attach to Jehovah's Witnesses so it needs to be asked. Recently on the back of blood cards there is an addendum to the "No Blood" rule of the Jehovah's Witnesses, there is a list of blood portions that will be accepted by Jehovah's Witnesses to be transplanted. Witnesses can just check off which portions they will receive, they could check off all the portions. To give a quick background on the make-up of blood, 79.2% of blood is Water, Hemoglobin makes up another 14.8%, Albumin is 2.6%, Globulin is 1.6%, Other Fractions 1.3% (sodium, etc.), Other Proteins account for 0.3%, and Clotting Factors 0.2% which are essentially platelets. Water will be handled with the IV, along with other proteins and other fractions. Hemoglobin is one of the items that can be checked, Albumin can be checked, Globulin can be checked, clotting factors usually doctors will just add iron to your IV if you're having an issue with clotting. So in essence if someone has every item checked on the back of their blood card, if the doctors go through with their wishes and make this mash of blood components and add the rest into the IV you're essentially getting a reconstituted blood transfusion. Not only that, but there are no difference in the storage of the components of blood compared to the storage of full blood. So Tough Question number 2; If all the separate portions of blood are acceptable to receive in one transfusion, why would receiving a complete blood transfusion be considered unacceptable?
Whoa, let’s back up, that’s a lot of information there wouldn’t you say? It’s also a lot to remember. So just remember these two numbers, Water = 80%, Hemoglobin = 15%. Then you should be good to go. There’s one other chief factor you’re going to have to remember and I’ll get into that a bit later.
Alright so let’s get into it, how to start a conversation with Jehovah’s Witnesses on this subject. At the door it’s as simple as 1, 2, 3….
1.) Aren’t you those folks that don’t take blood?
2.) Do you carry anything on you alerting EMT’s of this, if so can I see it?
3.) Hey what’s all this stuff on the back?
If you’re discussing with a relative you could start the conversation regarding this as “I was filling out a living will the other day and was thinking about what your stance would be in a medical emergency, are you still planning on not receiving blood?” Then move on to steps 2 and 3 in the previous example.
Once you get to see the back of their card, check to see what components are checked off. The best example would be if all the boxes are checked, but some probably will not. This is where you can follow up with the two figured I told you to Water being 80% of blood and Hemoglobin being 15%. Here’s a few examples of how:
- “I notice you have all these components of blood on the back of the card checked off, do you realize that when you combine these components along with water from an IV it makes up the exact components as a blood transfusion, if these are acceptable to be transfused all at once, why not just get a regular blood transfusion?”
- “Hmmm, I see these components on the back of the card checked off. I know that Water is about 80% of blood, and hemoglobin listed here is around 15%, so if you’re getting an IV and just this component you have 95% of blood being transfused. I’m sure if we researched what’s in blood we’d see these other components make up that last 5%, why not just get a regular blood transfusion? Especially given that the time it would take to get these components together vs. getting a regular blood transfusion might be the time it takes for you to die?”
The chief factor that I mentioned earlier is something you’re going to need to know when their response comes; know this phrase, love this phrase because this phrase will negate basically every argument they will come up with:
Blood transfusions are not transfusions of whole blood, it is transfusions of only the red blood cell. There hasn’t been a blood transfusion of whole blood since 1982 and in the more developed countries far longer.
The reason this phrase is important is for the few responses Jehovah’s Witnesses will have to your previous questions; namely:
- “These are only portions of blood, even when combined they do not make up full blood. Since not all the parts of full blood would be transfused even if I accepted all of these portions together it will still be a conscience matter.”
- “These are fractions of blood, when blood is separated it is no longer considered blood. Therefore as these are fractions, they would be a conscience matter.”
You can see the steps here, you need to know about the card and the portions listed in order to get to your question about fractions vs. the transfusion. You need to know at least the two percentages in order to corner them into their two responses, and you need to know what a blood transfusion is in order to refute their responses. These are the most common responses that I’ve encountered, you may get a variation of these two responses but really there is no other reasonable explanation. If you’re stumped as to how to respond to their two responses let me give a couple of suggestions:
“These are only portions of blood, even when combined they do not make up full blood. Since not all the parts of full blood would be transfused even if I accepted all of these portions together it will still be a conscience matter.”
- “Not all the parts of blood are transfused anyway, at least not since the early 80’s. Only the red blood cell is transfused, so since this does not make up full blood wouldn’t that be a conscience matter as well?”
- “No they don’t make up full blood, but a blood transfusion isn’t full blood anyway. It hasn’t been since 1982. These components do make up every single part of what is transfused in a blood transfusion though. So why would it be OK to accept portions of blood but not the portion of blood that is transfused? I mean what is the exact point where blood is no longer considered blood and is a conscience matter?”
“These are fractions of blood, when blood is separated it is no longer considered blood. Therefore as these are fractions, they would be a conscience matter.”
- “If when blood is separated it’s no longer considered blood, then why don’t you accept blood transfusions in general? Blood transfusions have been comprised of only red blood cells since the early 80’s. How small of a fraction does blood have to be in order to not be considered blood anymore?”
- “The card is saying that you don’t accept blood transfusions, but you’re saying that when blood is separated it’s no longer considered blood, then I’m confused since blood transfusions aren’t whole blood either. They’ve been only the red blood cell portion of blood since the early 80’s, could you explain why that portion of blood is not acceptable but every portion that makes up that larger portion is acceptable?”
For a good illustration you could talk about pasta sauce (hopefully something everyone has dealt with at some point and has an idea of what the ingredients are). Basically say “What if the country banned Prego (or whatever brand you want) Pasta sauce? But they allowed consumption of Tomato paste, water, oregano, cilantro, and basil all together. You couldn’t have them pre-mixed, but you could have all the ingredients to make the sauce separately; then mixed together at the point of consumption. Would that seem a little strange to you?”
There is no exact reasoning as to how small blood has to be in order to not be considered blood anymore. You could ask them if it seems it’s just an arbitrary fraction, the last thing you can bring up is that people die over this. People are currently and will in the future die meddling over whether 17%, 20%, or 15% of blood is too much a part of blood to be considered blood and therefore not in harmony with scriptures to be transfused. The best place to finish off with is this scripture; Matthew 23: 23-24:
Woe to YOU, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because YOU give the tenth of the mint and the dill and the cumin, but YOU have disregarded the weightier matters of the Law, namely, justice and mercy and faithfulness. These things it was binding to do, yet not to disregard the other things. Blind guides, who strain out the gnat but gulp down the camel!