Refusing blood transfusion: A free choice?

by StephaneLaliberte 12 Replies latest watchtower beliefs

  • StephaneLaliberte

    I wrote the following in relation to the mother in Quebec who died for refusing a blood transfusion. Enjoy. :)

    I personally grew up within the Jehovah's witnesses and was a member in good standing until 2013 (aged 35), date at which I became inactive. To help you grasp the situation in which Eloise actually was, let’s pretend, for a moment, that she would have preferred to receive a blood transfusion...

    Eloise, on her hospital bed, has lost a significant amount of blood. The doctors inform her that she is the proud mother of a healthy baby, but that she should quickly take a blood transfusion to survive. Wishing to live and raise her child, she's willing to accept this transfusion. Only, she is invaded by a sense of terrible fear:

    "What if my family, friends and perhaps even the elders, who are outside my room come to know that I got a transfusion? Heck, a member of the hospital staff could tell them my mistake! And if they see blood bags in and out of my room? "
    "My family and perhaps the elders expect me to ask for their help so that they can support me in my refusal to take blood. If I don't do it, they’ll assume that I did take blood; they’ll try to find out and even later, after my discharge from the hospital, they’ll question me, trying to break me and if I hold up, they’ll still be suspicious for years! "
    "Will I really be able to hold on? Lie to my husband, mother, father, and all of my friends? And if it comes out! The horror! I'll have to deal with a Judicial composed of 3 Elders! They’ll question me for two or three hours, behind closed doors, unsupported (well except, perhaps, for my husband). And if they judge that I am not repentant, I'll be disfellowshiped! I’ll become the shame of my family. My father will lose the privilege of being a respectable Elder... it's all his life. My mother, my father, my family, witnesses and all my friends will stop talking to me. They won't even answer if I call them on the phone. On the street, they’ll change sidewalk to avoid me! There’s going to be lots of sadness, and I'll be the first cause of it."
    "And my husband, what will he think of this? Many are those who’ve seen their marriage broken because of their spouse leaving the truth. Is that what I really want? To raise my child in a divided family? And even if my couple survives, my husband will be ashamed of me and he won’t get proper respect from the congregation for many years. For sure he won’t be able to reach out for many years!"
    "Oh, and the blood card that I signed!! In article 6, I gave the rights to the HLC (Hospital Liaison Committee) to access my medical record! So, if I take blood, they’ll see it on my medical record. And if I take that privilege away from them now, they'll know that I'm taking blood! "

    While she thinks about all this, she asks the doctor for a few moments with her family. Thus, the family comes in, and starts chatting with her … in the company of the HLC. This Committee is composed of elders, experts on the issues of legal and medical law for situations involving Jehovah's Witnesses. It is they who have the right of access to her medical record. And it's also them who will work with the JC in the event that it accepts a blood transfusion. These men inform Eloise that there is an alternative treatment that will bring her back to health. And according to a relative of Eloise, who shared information on Facebook, this treatment is presented not only as alternative, but in fact superior to blood transfusion, which is more risky. In fact, she said, hospitals suggest blood transfusion due to the fact that this treatment is far less expensive than the alternative.

    And there you have Eloise: surrounded by people who threaten her with shunning, who have a grip on his medical record, and who misinform her on the medical treatment she is about to receive.

    The question that arises: Threatening with shunning and public shame a member of the religion for such a decision, and taking action that interferes in people's personal affairs… Is that not, in itself, a form of abuse and abusive coercion of the Jehovah's witnesses?

  • Hairtrigger

    The "Superior alternative" to transfusion advocated by the HLC, is tantamount to murder. They helped a patient kill herself. I change that to assisted in and advocated a form of suicide to a human not of sound health at that moment in which she was coerced and jockeyed into a decision that caused her death. They should be charged with first degree murder. I am inclined to think " abuse" is way too mild a term in these circumstances.

  • steve2

    Stephane, you capture so well the "trapped" terror of adhering to an authoritarian belief system in which one's obedience or otherrwise is closely monitored by elders and whose "noncompliance" has severe social, interpersonal and personal consequences. Understandably, you will never ever see your realistic trapped scenario acknowledged by any JW, let alone their Governing Body.

    The JW leaders who were the very first to promote the arrangement of an official organizational "set up" actually in hospitals (the so-called Hospital Liaison Committee, HLCs), would have had a hard eye on ensuring the rank and file were "supported" in adhering to the no-blood belief. It is tommy-rot for JW elders to assert it is literally for the JW patient's wellbeing.

    Of course, within the organization, HLCs are framed in the most positive of terms - but you are absolutely correct: It is an organizationally "inspired" way to closely monitor obedience to belief -especially when life is at risk. Stripped of double talk, HLCs "help" JWs at medical risk to die by ensuring no blood is given.

  • OrphanCrow
    Stephane: These men inform Eloise that there is an alternative treatment that will bring her back to health. And according to a relative of Eloise, who shared information on Facebook, this treatment is presented not only as alternative, but in fact superior to blood transfusion, which is more risky. In fact, she said, hospitals suggest blood transfusion due to the fact that this treatment is far less expensive than the alternative.

    Did that actually happen - that the HLC said there was an alternative treatment? Do you have any information on what this "alternative" was? Was Eloise told that this alternative was better?


    Refusing blood transfusion: A free choice?


    Image result for Businessman with gun to head

  • TheWonderofYou

    If she really went through all these troubles and if she had no really free joice,

    if she was truly seduced to set her hope in a straw, that a transfusion-less care would help her

    if her was not given other choice than to confirm to the heartless watchtower men.

    if she was to weak to fight against the overmight of mental persecution


    for me she was a S A I N T .

    ......however that may have happened in detail ...for what she underwent

    I think she was one and we cry with her.

  • DesirousOfChange

    Of course it's a "free choice". You can choose to refuse a blood transfusion, or you can choose to be shunned (if you live) by all of your family and friends. No one FORCED you to choose. . . . Doc [playing JW apologist]

  • StephaneLaliberte

    OrphenCrow: The mother of Eloise's best friend, the one that was by her side the entire 6 days when she was dying, wrote many comments on Facebook explaining their (the JWs) take on the events.

    Here, I am paraphrasing various comments she made and this is what is being communicated to every JWs around quebec.

    The alternative treatment Eloise received, Erythropoietin, was much more expensive than a blood transfusion and was in fact successful. Also, it was prescribed by the HLC who have their own doctors who can offer diagnostics. Though the hospital's doctor and medical staff did not agree with the HLC's diagnostic, they had no choice but to follow the instructions. As it turns out, they were surprised to see that Eloise's low blood cell actually raised and that she was on the road to recovery. Praise be Jehovah; the HLC was right! The hospital was wrong.

    Unfortunately, low and behold, a streptococcal infection came back and killed Eloise. Came back? Well, yes... as it turns out, Eloise had suffered from this virus a few weeks prior to giving birth and simply thought that she was done with it.

    Sadly, in the end, it is the virus that killed her. Not the lack of blood. Unfortunately, the media, especialy TVA, who are driven by an Apostate who simply wants to sell his book, are pushing the lie that she died because she refused the transfusion. Obviously, Satan is very strong and this persecution is founded in lie, nothing but lies.

    What they fail to understand , or purposefully ignore, is that a blood transfusion would have given her all the red and white cells needed to fight this virus. In addition to the blood, add a well known antivirus for the streptococcal infection, and she'd have survived. Like hundreds of other women who lived similar medical situations and survived. Without enough blood, the anti-virus could not even make its way to the lungs in time. Thats where the virus destroyed every good cells it could find.

  • stuckinarut2

    well written!

    Any group that TELLS its people what choices they should make, is stepping beyond appropriate boundaries. They are in fact acting like the scribes and pharasees who "made the word of god invalid by their traditions"

    Any group that tells its members "what they should think" is displaying 'cult-like' tendencies. Pure and simple.

  • OrphanCrow
    Stephane: What they fail to understand , or purposefully ignore, is that a blood transfusion would have given her all the red and white cells needed to fight this virus.


    What they are ignoring is that Eloise's white blood cell count was lowered by her blood loss to the point that she was susceptible to infection without the body's resources to fight off that infection.

    If Eloise had received a blood transfusion, her body would have had the white blood cells required to fight the infection and it is quite possible that she would never have an infection to begin with. (virus? was it really a virus or an infection?).

    Erythropoietin. Yeah...the JWs believe that it is a miracle product that can magically restore blood cells. Well, it is rather remarkable that erythropoietin can stimulate red blood cell production in bone marrow. Its most common use is to be given to patients with kidney disease because our bodies produce erythropoietin naturally in our kidneys but this function is impaired in patients with kidney disease.

    However, erythropoietin takes a significant amount of time to work (one website for dialysis patients claims that a person using it will take one to two months before they feel better) and the length of time it takes to work is what makes it less effective than a blood transfusion. It takes at least a full week of erythropoietin dosing to get the same benefit that only one unit of blood would give. And, in most cases after a uterine hemorrhaging incident, at least 3 units of blood are given.

    Of course Erythropoietin didn't work - it is an inferior treatment option. Using it in the manner that the HLC recommends is an off label use of the product. (side note - erythropoietin is a banned substance for athletes - it is used for blood doping).

    It is NOT superior to a blood transfusion in response to hemorrhaging and it comes with risks of its own. And it is expensive. If the HLC told the family that erythropoietin is superior to blood, they lied. It isn't.

    It WAS the blood transfusion refusal that killed Eloise.

    * to add - if the HLC really does have the patient's best interest in mind, where the hell were they when Eloise was making the decision to have a home birth? Why are JW women not told that their risk of dying from hemorrhaging is sky high in comparison to the general population? How come the HLC doesn't include that information on their 'pregnant woman' forms?

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