Looking for a bit of advice in a difficult situation

by Oversteer 19 Replies latest jw friends

  • Oversteer

    Hi all. I'm looking for a bit of guidance here and not really sure where to turn. Maybe someone has been in a similar situation and can help me out.

    Currently I'm an awake, baptized JW. Have been for a few years. Ive remained semi active due to having friends and family in the truth. I have had limited success trying to wake up my spouse, however some progress has been made.

    Recently a sibling of mine (a JW) has developed serious health problems, and is need of what is now a fairly urgent liver transplant. Being placed on the deceased donor list is effectively a death sentence for my sibling, since his/her stance on blood makes surgery riskier, therefore placed at the top of the list.

    Living donation is now the only chance my sibling has to make it. Here is where things get a bit complicated. When I heard this news I, along with a couple other family members(active jws)volunteered to donate. My sibling then started planning for surgery. However when the surgery team here in Canada learned it would involve a jw donor, they refused, due to it being more risky for a transfusion free surgery. They will not risk a life unnecessarily. It's interesting they used the term "respect for life". He/she then informed us the only choice now is to find a surgeon in another country, and paying out of pocket( a massive amount of money they do not have) willing to operate on two JWs.

    Now as an awake JW I very much do not share this stance on blood. So I meet with my sibling in private and make this point known. I will accept a transfusion if nessesary, and if I am compatible can do the surgery here in Canada. After the Initial shock, He/she was relieved, and agreed to not tell anyone and carry through with the planning.

    However a few days later I get a call from my sibling, to say that he/she cannot accept my offer anymore as it would feel like "sharing in my sin". long story short, after a long discussion, his/her stance on blood and the "truth" only became more entrenched. It became about trying to correct me and my "wrong thinking". I was not making progress, and I could see where this was headed with talk of getting elders involved.

    So I decided to back away from this argument until it has been determined I am even a compatible donor or not. Now my dilemma is: if the results come back that I am a compatible donor what do I do? Out myself and get DF'd, or back away from the situation and let another JW family member do the surgery?

  • wisdomfrombelow

    You should find out your compatibility first. Then you can offer your transplant. I would not discuss your medical plans with your sibling and only with the doctor. If you are a match and the recipient chooses blood free surgery perhaps you, if you are the donor, could choose surgery without that restriction. In the USA confidentiality laws limit what can be told to anyone so you could keep your decision confidential.

    No need to "out yourself" or discuss it with anyone else either before or after the surgery. Learn to keep quiet and perhaps you can save your sibling.

  • Oversteer


    Yes a very good point we also have confidentiality laws here in Canada. The only difficulty is the fact my sibling made it known well known to everyone in the whole city that Canada would absolutely not do a transfusion free surgery for the donor. Also in light of the conversation we had, would definitely put 2 and 2 together if the surgeons were to suddenly change their minds. In hindsight I should have dealt directly with the hospital in Canada here

  • OnTheWayOut

    This is a quagmire. You are willing to break the JW rules, but the person receiving the gift is not. If you told the doctors in secret that you are willing to have blood, should it be needed, they still know your sibling is not willing. You leave them in a bad place- "try not to give you blood, and don't say anything if you do have to, and yet still risk the recipient's life."

    If your sibling is not 100% with you, willing to just shut out other people from knowing that either of you will take blood if needed, then I would suggest you just walk away from it. I wouldn't even bother to find out if I was compatible, as that just gives your sibling more to report to the elders- that you went so far in pressuring them as to even see if it could be done. I might do it on the low down- ask the doctors to determine if I am compatible without telling my sibling, fully explaining the stupid JW thing. Your sibling could change their mind, but I doubt it.

    I know a life is involved, but it's their choice.

  • JWdaughter

    As I am sure this is weighing on your heart, I would encourage you to accept that no matter what, your sibling would be unlikely to accept a donation from you in any country. I think you should speak to doctors about WHY your liver in incompatible and let them just make THAT aspect clear. You are not compatible for a liver transplant. There is no need to risk your life(seriously!) for his conviction. It's bad enough the religion has effectively made it risky for him, but don't die for nothing-presumably, your family will need a healthy child/spouse/parent in the absence of your brother being able to actively participate at least for awhile, and perhaps permanently. I hope your brother beats the odds. My heart goes out to you both.

  • Oversteer


    Thank you for your input. Part of my reason for confronting my sibling was not just to try to make the surgery happen, but I thought I had an opportunity to really get through. His/her surgery is very compromised due to very low blood counts a bloodless surgery adds a major complication to that

  • Half banana
    Half banana

    Oversteer, your altruism is admirable, to lose a chunk of your own liver for a relative is no small sacrifice.

    Compatibility test first then if suitable:

    From the perspective of the medics, they will be aware of the difficulty which confronts JWs when it would normally be recommended to use blood in a procedure. Surely a part liver transplant would demand blood. The doctors also know that when push comes to shove, many if not most JWs will take the transfusion on the understanding that the doctors knowing the patient's predicament will not let on to the relatives that a transfusion has taken place. This usually applies in the UK, it might be worth knowing if it is the case for your sibling's doctors.

    The first issue is the person's life weighed against their compliance with what they have been led to believe is "God's law".

    Second, whereas you wish to help, your own anti JW position on blood will be exposed which will have hefty social consequences .

    Third if you permit your donation to your sibling he/she will see it as being able to live only by complicity with sinful anti-JW thinking.

    Your sibling's instinct is to lose life rather than get mixed up with a non JW style resolution. Whereas blood is the safest and quickest means of recovery from serious operations. You can give them a tangible hope of a future life, the Watchtower's hopes have never been realized.

    Can you explain the whole background of obedience to this JW org has all along been a waste of life? Probably not... and in this particular life and death situation the JW instinct, after years of indoctrination, is for them to simply conform to the demands of the cult.

    I imagine that unless you can convince your sibling of the bigger picture, you are likely to be keeping the whole of your own liver.

    Of course you are the one who is in the unenviable position to make up your mind on the matter but your sib is under great pressure to perform as an obedient JW. A person who has been trained to give all to the WTBTS and people when under such immense pressures are less likely to make rational decisions.

    So might the answer be to have a further calm long talk with your bro/sis to get them to see reason and if unsuccessful from your position, you can still retreat knowing that you gave him or her your best?

    It must be in their interest to listen to you and surely they would agree to keep silent on the matter of your disagreement with the WT on account of your willingness to help?

    How sad it is that irrational thinking puts people into this dangerous medical dilemma in the first place, however I wish you the best, whatever choice is made.

  • WingCommander

    Hello! I really feel for you and your sibling. I was in a similar position 10 years ago. My mother also required a liver transplant, due to complications from Alpha-1. I, as her son, went thru the screening process to be a "live partial liver donor." I was a match, but unfortunately my liver had some fatty deposits, and I was disqualified. She was put onto the list, in the one territory of Virginia. In America, we have University Hospitals that specialize in bloodless surgery. University of Pittsburgh is one, University of Virginia (Charlottesville) is another. My mother received her much needed liver transplant from a deceased organ donor whom died in a car crash. However, even though she was in relatively good health, the liver never really functioned properly, and after 3 months of complications she passed away, never having left the UVa hospital. So trust me when I tell you: I've been there. Now let me tell you something else that the UVa doctors and nurses told me, my mother, etc in private. She was an RN as well, but also a recently "awake" JW. Anyway, the specialists told us down in Virginia that yes, they do the transplant as "bloodless" as is humanly possible, but that it's nearly impossible to get all the blood out. (like a steak, really) Also, they told us something else that was absolutely shocking; that 90% of JW's that came to UVa for the so-called "bloodless" transplant, had their blood previously stored to be used in the procedure, and that also they accepted other blood when needed from the blood supply. Let that sink in: 90% of JW's accepted blood when their lives were on the line. Guess what? When my mother need packed plasma, etc....she GOT IT. The symbol of life was not meant to be more important than the very life itself. I don't regret signing off on it one bit. Neither did she, as an RN or as a kinda-still believing JW. She wasn't going to risk her life for an ever-changing policy on blood. Remember, fractions had been banned at one, and in the 1970's, organ transplants were considered "cannibalism" and a DF'ing offense! Imagine how many people died from that asinine policy, needlessly! If you want to talk more with me, you may PM me. I hope things work out better for your sibling.

  • Crazyguy

    Share with your relative the scriptures where Jesus says that "we desire mercy not sacrifice " Mathew chapter 12 I believe the. In Mathew chapter 15 he says "nothing entering into a man can defile him" then explain that in the 70s jws were told not to have any transplants for that was canabalism yet just 13 years later they changed thier minds. Then maybe relate to the new WT where they say they are neither inspired nor infalable .

    I think she will die if you don't try since no other JW will be excepted. One last thing you may relate to her that they allow cows blood as per a KM so you may ask why is cows blood ok but not human, you also may add that in human breast milk there 1 million white cells per drop.

  • jwfacts

    You should not be risking your life for a person that does not value theirs in the same way that you value yours.

Share this