There are inherent limitations when developing an estimate of something as complex as the Watchtower's partial blood transfusion ban. Of course it would be ideal if we had better data that would permit us to be more exact than we have been. There are both known limitations, and unknown limitations. With respects to Dr. Muramoto's method, here are his written comments to me:
"This kind of extrapolation is used all the time in various
advertisements in medical field. Drug A can prevent heart attack 1% better than
drug B. Then using other statistics, the drug company of drug A advertises that
drug A can save X thousand of lives every year. This advertisement is not
necessarily false, but critics are ready to say that it is misleading because
those statistics are taken from different contexts, and the advertisement
suggests that drug A actually saves X thousand of lives, which is not. So, our
campaign is not false as a campaign, but is also rightly criticized as
misleading for the same reasons."
With respect to the estimate prepared by Marvin Shilmer, we have fewer limitations. Belieav's data covers a much wider scope than Kitchens which only considered surgery. Belieav's data is related to anemia. Anemia is the great killer of JW's in our experience. The aim of the study was to develop a mortality risk stratification instrument for severely anemic JW patients so as to predict mortality. The JW patients were self identified, and seeking medical care without blood. A total of 10,786 admissions among 3529 JW patients was identified. Of these 108 met eligibility criteria. Their average age was 58.6. 70% of the cases involved surgery. None of the cases involved pediatrics or JW adolescents. It is a reasonable assumption that the study did not include JW women giving birth.
The data is drawn from four major public hospitals in New Zealand from 1998 - 2007. So we are looking at a very high standard of care. We're dealing with JW patients with access to a wide range of high tech alternative therapies that significantly reduce mortality and morbidity in the JW population. It is a given that this standard of care is not available in developing countries, hence it can reasonably assumed that actual mortality and morbidity are significantly higher among the overall JW population.
This is not a perfect study either. It has limitations. It is, however, the best study presently available. If and when better studies become available, we will use those. Even then, however, we will always be making assumptions that can be criticized. I think a good comparison would be with respects to evolution. There are many assumptions made that sometimes turn out to be false. Watchtower and other Creationists can rightly criticize these failure and limitations. None of that, however, alters the fact the evolution is the mechanism by which life forms change, adapt and gradually become other forms of life.
Likewise with our estimate of deaths related to the Watchtower blood policy. We are making assumptions, some of which could be wrong. A host of known and unknown factors could either increase or decrease the true morbidity rate. We suspect that ultimately these factors will tend to increase the estimated annual morbidity of 0.015% - it may be significantly higher. There is a low probability that the unknown factors could decrease the morbidity, but the probability remains.It
is our sincere belief that the estimates of Dr. Muramoto, and Marvin Shilmer are reasonably accurate and conservative. We will use and defend them, and if a better study or estimate can be done in the future, we will use it.