Ethics Discussion of WTS Blood Policy

by Marvin Shilmer 33 Replies latest watchtower medical

  • ozziepost

    G'day Marvin,

    Good to see you here. Thanks for posting.

    Cheers, Ozzie

  • Nicodemus


    Thanks for the link. That article should be required reading for anyone interested in Jehovah's Witnesses' policies on blood. If one has the current JW perspective, it certainly promotes understanding of the dilemmas our stand causes for compassionate and conscientious medical personnel. Conversely, I was gratified by statements from physicians who are very clear on medical treatment being a case of treating a whole person, not just a body.

    A few specific thoughts:

    1. The nurse commented: "When she made the decision to accept the bovine product, we started to question her choices, asking, 'What does this really mean? Why is she doing this? Why doesn't she just take blood?'" That is a very reasonable question. And it is one for which I'm not sure that we can come up with a reasonable answer.

    2. The chaplain helped the medical personnel "come to an understanding of her beliefs." First of all, what a noble thing for that chaplain to demonstrate respect for one of Jehovah's Witnesses by explaining her belief, even if he did not agree with it. Secondly, was there no one representing Jehovah's Witnesses who was able to explain our own beliefs cogently?

    3. The Palliative Care Physician made some interesting comments regarding "the caregiver [being] seen to be in league with the Devil" when it comes to using blood. Those references are diminished, if not absent, in recent JW literature. But a long-time JW familiar with earlier writing on the subject might very well tend to view this as a "tool of the Devil." A couple of years back, on the old H2O, a poster by the name of "Friend" posted a suggested Watchtower article modifying our doctrinal position on blood. It is because of situations like this that I believe such a presentation would be necessary to fully "undo" this lingering belief on the part of, in particular, older Witnesses.

    That's all I have the time to contribute right now.

  • Pathofthorns

    I thought the article was good because it showed the frustration of the medical community with the inconsistent JW position. It also showed the spirit with which the care is provided and the sadness at their helplessness mingled with admiration and respect for even an incomprehensible position.

    There is a general distrust among JW's regarding doctors and the matter of blood- a feeling that somehow doctors are trying to push some sort of harmful and unnecessary treatment on them.

    Somewhere along the line the picture has become so distorted that they actually believe that physicians do not have their best interests at heart and that the medical community is out to poison the masses with blood carrying AIDS and heppatitis.

    You have to respect the sort of conviction where an individual will go the full limit for what he believes in. It is just sad when those convictions are not based on a full understanding of the bigger picture and when life is sacrificed because of a handful of people that won't come clean and say they made a mistake. I think the article conveyed that pain and frustration very well. Thanks for sharing it.


  • Pistoff

    If anyone here can answer this I would greatly appreciate it:

    Is human hemoglobin acceptable to witnesses? Is it possible to separate it from the packed RBC's?

    The most recent discussion of this topic does NOT rule out hemoglobin by name, when as recently as 1998 they had specifically ruled it OUT for "loyal christians".

    I agree that bovine hemoglobin is an unethical copout response from bethel, for at least two reasons:
    The bovine blood was not poured out, their reason for not storing blood to be reused later, even one's own blood.
    The bible does not differentiate between human and animal blood, in their own circular thinking; it just says, abstain from blood. If anything, this is even more a direct violation of that mandate, since it was most likely cow's blood that the jews expected the new christians not to consume.
    As usual, the rank and file knows nothing about this until they enter the hospital; this is the most unethical way possible to announce a change in policy.

    It is the blood stand as well as child abuse that has made me, a witness since 1971, finally decide to begin fading away from the organization. I don't know yet what to keep and what to throw away, but I do know that sitting through meetings and listening to what I now hear as sophistry and the dreaded "human reasoning" is making me even more crazy than I was.

  • jst2laws

    Hello Pistoff

    Is human hemoglobin acceptable to witnesses? Is it possible to separate it from the packed RBC's?

    It appears the answer is yes! It is extracted from the red blood cell and therefore falls under the WT Pharasitical rule of a "blood fraction". It has been very unstable and can be a problem for the kidneys if it breaks down too fast but seems they have fixed those problems. The product near FDA approval is extracted from Cows blood. As I understand it even human hemoglobin would be acceptable by present WT rules but is not available.

    Perhaps some of the real authorities will clarify this.


  • jst2laws

    Recent article for the average reader


  • Marvin Shilmer
    Marvin Shilmer

    Hi, Pistoff

    As Jst2laws has pointed out, WTS policy does allow human or animal hemoglobin as a matter of conscience.

    The two front runners for FDA approval are Polyheme and Hemopure.

    Northfield Laboratories, Inc. makes Polyheme from human blood.

    Biopure makes the product called Hemopure from cow blood.

    Whether either of these two products as they exist today will reach the point of FDA approval or what conditions they would be approved for is yet to be seen.

    You are not the only one frustrated by WTS antics on this subject. It is abominable that WTS brass would keep life-saving details so quiet. Then again, if the WTS major concern is its image rather than the lives involved then its action here is entirely understandable. Corporate America has a history of keeping damaging details as quiet as practical regardless of consequences to others.

    Edited by - Marvin Shilmer on 25 August 2002 20:0:51

  • ChristianObserver

    Hello :o)

    Well if I'm reading this extract from Hemolink's description correctly, the Jehovah's Witness lady, whose life was saved by this product, was in receipt of *a hemoglobin replacement product which falls into the class of human-derived hemoglobin-based oxygen carriers.*

    Is it just me, or is there something really askew in the WTBTS's blood policy that the organisation can, to all intents and purposes, forbid their members to take human haemoglobin from the blood bank, but allow them to take human haemoglobin when it falls into the category of a *human-derived haemoglobin-based oxygen carrier*? ;o) (I don't consider this as a laughing matter though!)

    How can the group of people who have formulated the rulings/inherited the situation, sleep at night when they are persuading people to die for this

    scripturally insupportable,

    medically incomprehensible and

    completely illogical policy?

    Or is it that they truly do not *understand* the issues?

  • jst2laws

    Howdie Marvin,

    I was hoping you were watching your thread tonight. Thanks for the additional info.

    We are having a good time. Wish you were here.


  • ChristianObserver

    Just saw your post Marvin :o)

    I understand that *technically* Jehovah's Witnesses are allowed to accept haemoglobin if their conscience so permits, but I have yet to meet a Jehovah's Witness who

    a realises that

    b understands the policy

    c can discuss the policy without repeating references from WTBTS publications

    d has heard that *"In the last century, transfusions have saved more lives than any therapy except antibiotics, says Dr. Harvey Klein, chief of transfusion medicine at the National Institutes of Health.*

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