Jehovah's Witnesses and... are my magazine's cover story

by morrisamb 22 Replies latest watchtower medical

  • morrisamb

    Thanks for the feedback. We're hoping to put up some articles on our magazine web site...I think that's the way I'll try to go....I'll work on this and report back if I can say mission accomplished.

  • Tim Horton
    Tim Horton

    Good for you! I can imagine that took alot of hard work and determination. We're all so proud of you. Way to go guy. I hope I get to read it some day. Hugs Chris

  • morrisamb

    Haven't been here in ages..but I did promise to post the blood cover story from my it is: (By the way, only received positive response to the cover painting and this story. For once I wanted to be able to read an article that tried to present both sides of the story from a report's sensibility.) Blood: Curse or Cure? By K. D. One day, each of us will experience death. For Bethany Hughes, this day came early. Before she reached the age of twenty, she was abruptly seized by the merciless talons of leukemia. Before Bethany began her short life, her parents, Arliss and Lawrence, had moved to Calgary from Ontario seeking a brighter future. During this arduous time of transition, Lawrence Hughes says he met a man on a bus who seemed to make sense to him. This man spoke of salvation, and referred to scriptures and other printed material that seemed relevant to Hughes? situation. The man represented a world-wide community which includes over one hundred thousand members in Canada who call themselves Jehovah?s Witnesses. They assert that there is a ?Life-Giver? named Jehovah who, ?created the world and everything in it, and who is Lord of heaven and earth.? (Acts 17:24) Further, they share a common belief that God has dictated instructions for human conduct which are, ?for our lasting good,? and that these are articulated in the Christian Bible. As Lawrence and Arliss established themselves in Calgary, the local congregation of Jehovah?s Witnesses gradually became more central to their lives. Lawrence recounts that while they did have some outside business acquaintances, all of their solid friendships were formed within this group. He alleges that members were actively discouraged from bonding with people outside the congregation, and that for the next two decades, every aspect of his life was enveloped by the philosophy espoused by Jehovah?s Witnesses. During this time, Arliss gave birth to three daughters, the second of whom was Bethany Abigail Hughes. Early in February 2002, Bethany complained about a cough and some swelling in her neck. Her doctor prescribed antibiotics for what he thought was the flu, but the symptoms persisted. Blood tests were ordered, and as a result of these tests, she was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia (AML). At the Alberta Children?s Hospital in Calgary, doctors prescribed a program of intense chemotherapy with accompanying blood transfusions ? a common protocol for treating AML, which is a lethal cancer that is uncommon in young people. But this created conflict because as Jehovah?s Witnesses, Bethany and her parents believed that receiving blood products would be a violation of God?s law. ?Whatever is in the Bible is inspired by God, and it is true; it is accurate. There?s no room for loopholes,? says Mark Ruge, Public Information Director for the Witnesses? Watchtower Society in Canada. He goes on to explain that the Bible specifically provides guidance on the matter of blood: ?The life of every living creature is its blood: every man who eats it will be cut off.? (Leviticus 17:14) Ruge says that Jesus Christ reiterated this law during his lifetime and that it should be interpreted to mean that ?true Christians? in the modern world should not consume blood in any manner including by transfusion. While time was running out for Bethany, Lawrence was being pulled in two directions. On one hand his congregation and its elders were reminding him of his commitment to the laws of Jehovah. On the other hand, respected medical professionals were telling him that without the blood transfusions, Bethany would die. Faced with this dilemma, Lawrence turned to the Bible and began reading aloud to his daughter. He engaged in what he calls, ?a deep and serious study and investigation of my Jehovah?s Witness faith, particularly with respect of the Society?s condemnation of blood transfusions.? As he reviewed these familiar words, somehow the ancient passages began to seem less and less relevant to Bethany?s situation. He began to perceive a new message in the Bible which for him was more important ? the ?sanctity? of life. To him, this meant he should do whatever was necessary to save his daughter. He decided to trust the doctors and to give his consent for the prescribed treatment. Because he had acted in a manner contrary to the Society?s doctrine on blood, Lawrence claims he was banished from the congregation and he says that his wife and daughters were vehemently discouraged from having contact with him. In an affidavit he writes, ?Arliss packed a suitcase and left me one hour after I signed a consent form for Bethany to receive blood transfusions.? [Despite repeated attempts, neither Arliss nor her counsel could be reached for comment.] Mark Ruge concedes that the Society does have a procedure for ?disfellowshiping wrongdoers? which is employed as a last resort to ?keep the organization clean,? but he finds it hard to believe that Jehovah?s Witnesses would suddenly decide to question the foundations of their faith ? even in life-or-death situations ? given the commitment of study and reflection which is required for membership. ?This situation doesn?t exist ? all of a sudden they?re on the operating table and, ?Oh, boy! I wonder if I really want to be one of Jehovah?s Witnesses.? It doesn?t happen!? ?To become one of Jehovah?s Witnesses is not an easy thing. It?s not like being a month-old baby getting baptized into some church organization. To become one of Jehovah?s Witnesses takes months; for some people it takes years.? Ruge says that prospective members must devote hours to the digestion and discussion of large volumes of printed material. ?We have a lot to read besides the Bible ? articles on blood and whatever. When one feels that they have a real good grasp on the basic Bible doctrines, then if they believe it ? if they say, ?yes I can see how all of this is right; I agree with it all. I still want to be one of Jehovah?s Witnesses? ? only then they can get baptized.? ?Being one of Jehovah?s Witnesses isn?t an emotional thing. It?s thinking it out. That?s why there are no infant baptisms at all. Everybody who gets baptized has to be of an age where they know very clearly what they?re doing and what they?re getting into.? Beyond doctrines and procedures, Ruge is frankly concerned about the quality of information being given to people in hospitals. ?There have been tens of thousands of people who have been told, ?If you take a blood transfusion you will live.? They took the blood transfusions and they died. There are hundreds and hundreds of cases where Jehovah?s Witnesses have been told, ?If you don?t take a blood transfusion you?re going to die.? They didn?t take blood and they lived. So what?s the story? When somebody says, ?If you don?t take blood you?re going to die,? that?s fiction! They don?t know that!? ?Blood is dynamite,? Ruge adds. ?There?s AIDS and hepatitis and all of this that one can get from blood. Every time they find a new disease that?s in blood, they find a cure or they filter it out and then blood is supposedly safe. Then something else happens, and then something else. AIDS probably isn?t the last of what will be found in blood.? ?As Jehovah?s Witnesses, we don?t take blood because the Bible says so. But there are so many blood alternative treatments that don?t have the complications, so why would anyone want to take blood?? Bethany?s chemotherapy protocol continued, and during this time she received thirty-eight blood transfusions. She and her mother continued to oppose this, and at times Bethany was physically restrained during her treatments. Her condition ebbed and flowed, but by late June, 2002, her health appeared to Lawrence to have deteriorated. He claims that at that time she had developed ?skin cancer lesions? on her back, but that her leukemia was in remission. She had endured her fourth round of chemotherapy and was due for release within weeks. ?Whenever you take chemotherapy it makes you very ill,? says Lawrence. ?It brings you as close to death as you can get. So the fact that she was very ill wasn?t surprising.? Childhood Leukemia: The Facts, a manual endorsed by the Leukemia Research Fund, describes chemotherapy as the most common treatment for childhood leukemia, noting that it has shown a fifty-percent success rate. Success is defined as achieving remission ? a state which may not necessarily solidify the patient?s long-term survival. Additionally, listed under the heading ?Complications of Chemotherapy? are, among other things, bone marrow failure, anaemia and lack of white cells ? some of the very problems it is intended to cure. For this reason, chemotherapy is often buttressed by blood transfusions, and sometimes people survive the disease but succumb to the treatment. Zenon Bodnaruk of the Watchtower Society?s Hospital Information Service says most doctors tend to stick with hospital Cancer Treatment Protocols and that these frequently call for chemotherapy. He calls this a ?toxic therapy,? and claims that some of these protocols are not sensitive to the tolerance of the individual to drugs. He feels that the treatments should be flexible and tailored to the needs of each patient, and that this would help to reduce marrow and blood cell damage and thus lessen the need for transfusions. He claims reason to be optimistic about recent developments in medicine, which seem to have a future as alternatives to blood-intensive supports for cancer therapies. According to Bodnaruk the key to some of these bloodless therapies lies in stem cells, which are tissue wildcards that live within the marrow and can become whatever type of cell the body may require. One among several therapies he finds exciting is called a peripheral blood stem cell transplant where a patient?s blood is processed by a stem cell separator and then returned to the body. This device collects and stores stem cells which can then be cultured and infused into the marrow when they are needed to attack leukemia cells, and to stimulate regeneration of vital blood components. On September 6, 2002, only a few months after the initial diagnosis, and just shortly after her seventeenth birthday, Bethany died at the Cross Cancer Institute near Edmonton, Alberta. The record is unclear on exactly what happened during the preceding few months, but throughout that summer, Lawrence claims that Bethany was with her mother, and that she contacted him a few times but did not disclose her location. Lawrence filed a lawsuit August 25, 2004 on behalf of himself and the estate of Bethany Hughes. In his statement of claim, he alleges that his former wife and the Society, ?overtly influenced Bethany to believe that blood transfusions were wrong and would not help cure her cancer.? The statement continues, ?Bethany did not have the life or developmental experience which would allow her to question her Jehovah?s Witness faith or the Society?s teachings,? and that she, ?did not have the capacity to give knowing consent to a medical treatment which did not include transfusions.? Mark Ruge says that people just do not usually find themselves in this situation. He says that members are encouraged to consider all of the consequences of refusing blood treatments and to discuss any concerns openly with elders and other members. Ruge feels that this should be a non-issue anyhow because the physical benefits of bloodless treatments are demonstrable. He states, ?There are a lot of people who check into hospitals as Jehovah?s Witnesses even though they?re not. They are just smart enough to know that blood is fraught with problems, and they don?t want to have to go through the hassle of trying to convince a doctor.? Two parents grieve, the battle rolls on, and Bethany rests. All biblical citations from The New English Bible; Oxford University Press: 1970 Further Resources: Childhood Leukemia: The Facts John S. Lilleyman, Professor of Paediatric Oncology, St. Bartholomew?s and the Royal London School of Medicine and Dentistry, The Royal London Hospital, Whitechapel, London, U.K.; Oxford University Press: 2000 London Public Library (LPL) call number: 618.9299419 Lil Childhood Leukemia: A Guide for Families, Friends and Caregivers Nancy Keene O?Reilly and Associates, Inc.: 2002 LPL call number: 618.9299419 Kee The Gift of Death Andre Picard Harper Collins, Toronto: 1995 LPL call number: 362.1784 Pic Everyone?s Guide To Cancer Therapy M. Dollinger, E. H. Rosenbaum, G. Cable Sommerville House, Toronto: 2002 LPL call number: 616.99406 Eve K. D. is a local journalist whose talents include stumbling over the obscure and stating the obvious.

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