Where is the WTS headed with their blood policy?
By Lee Eldersenior AJWRB member
Recently Jehovah's Witnesses learned that there would be no pocket size advance directives (blood cards) issued this year  and naturally, this has created some speculation as to the reason.
03/1999 Blood Card -image 1
If you are carrying or possess the most recent "released" version of the card which was published in March 1999, you will find it interesting to note that a new version was in fact prepared for this year and published in June 2001. The cards were shipped to some congregations and probably a few were actually distributed to members who were baptized over the summer and fall in congregations that ran out of the older version.
About a month ago, congregations were informed not to distribute these new cards, but rather destroy them. The difference is one line where the older March - 1999 card states "I direct that no blood transfusion [see image 1] (whole blood, red cells, white cells, platelets or blood plasma) be given to me...," the June - 2001 version reads "I direct that no allogeneic blood transfusion [see image 2] (whole blood, red cells, white cells, platelets or blood plasma) be given to me..." So the difference in the cards is the use of the word allogeneic in the June 2001 version.
06/2001 Blood Card (not distributed) -image 2The word "allogeneic" refers to intraspecies genetic variations. Therefore, an "allogeneic" transfusion is one derived from the blood of a different person. The implication here is clear. The Watchtower Society stood at the threshold of permitting autologous whole blood transfusions and for some reason, presently unknown, suddenly shifted and stepped back.
It seems evident there is a great struggle within the WTS leadership as to how best deal with the WTS disastrous policy on blood. Any who are still convinced that the WTS stands solidly behind this policy and are prepared to die defending the policy (or even worse - permit their children to die) have cause to soberly reflect on their support.
In our view, this may be one of those situations where the governing body voted to permit Jehovah's Witnesses to use their own blood and put the wheels in motion to change the policy - only to have one member of the body change their mind at the last second and call for a re-vote.
We believe that the WTS blood policy will change again and change dramatically from a historical perspective - the question is when. The foundation necessary for the change is in place. Even now Jehovah's Witnesses who write for permission to withdraw and store their blood for the use of WTS approved blood fractions are told they may do so. At present huge quantities of blood are donated by non-JWs, stored and processed to provide all of the blood products permitted by the Watchtower Society.
Soon Jehovah's Witnesses will have access to hemoglobin based blood substitutes like HemoPure and PolyHeme. The WTS will be inundated with tough questions and a whole series of articles will have to follow. This will probably lead to further erosion of the Watchtower's once firm stand:
" Is it wrong to sustain life by infusions of blood or plasma or red cells or the various blood fractions? Yes!.regardless of whether it is whole blood taken from one's own body or that taken from someone else, whether it is administrated as a transfusion or an injection, the divine law applies.Whether whole or fractional, one's own or someone else's, transfused or injected, it is wrong." - The Watchtower 09/15/1961 p. 557-559
To members of the governing body of Jehovah's Witnesses, the collective members of AJWRB ask: "If we are permitted to use all of these blood products, why do we withhold one of the tiniest - platelets - when permitting it would save the lives of so many Jehovah's Witness children and adults who are forced to discontinue their chemotherapy?"
Platelets account for only 0.17% of blood volume. If you look at blood like a dollar bill, platelets would be less than 1/5 of one penny. While a permitted blood product like hemoglobin accounts for nearly 15% of blood volume. There is no justification for Watchtower leaders to maintain a policy that sends all of these people to an early grave. At some point, they must find the courage to right this terrible wrong. When they do, AJWRB will have served its purpose but until then we will continue our mission of educating other Jehovah's Witnesses and the medical community regarding the Watchtower's irrational policy on the use of blood.
Even now work goes ahead on important articles soon to be published in American Medical Journals that will inform physicians about these discrepancies and what they can do to minimize morbidity and mortality within the Jehovah's Witness community.