AAWA’s core issues with the Watchtower and Jehovah’s Witnesses are clearly defined in our Mission Statement:
AAWA believes that the Watchtower promotes and enforces a range of damaging and overly invasive teachings and practices that cannot be briefly summarized. However, in order to drive its message home more effectively and forcefully, AAWA chooses to focus on five key areas in which the Society must introduce urgent reforms. These are (in no particular order):
1. The shunning of relatives by Jehovah’s Witnesses
2. The mishandling of cases of child abuse within congregations
3. The mishandling of cases of domestic abuse by judicial committees
4. The demonizing of higher education by Watchtower leaders
5. The ban on certain forms of treatment with blood and inconsistency of Watchtower guidelines
While the first four issues listed are extremely critical and damaging to individuals and families, the Watchtower’s blood transfusion policy puts all Jehovah’s Witnesses in harm’s way and at death’s door every moment of their lives.
We’re talking LIFE and DEATH decisions for newborn babies, the elderly and infirm, accident victims, and for those who are suffering from serious or chronic diseases. For Jehovah’s Witnesses almost every trip to the hospital could be a death sentence.
One of AAWA’s favorite – and most productive – projects has been to assist in the restoration and updating of AJWRB.org, the flagship website focused squarely on the Watchtower’s blood doctrine – managed for years by “Lee Elder.” “Lee Elder” is a founding member and the Director of Associated Jehovah’s Witnesses for Reform on Blood and a member of AAWA’s Board of Advisers.
Several years ago, one of the technical team members supporting the original version of AJWRB.org created an amazing visual display illustrating the history and evolution of the Watchtower’s blood doctrine and policies. The programming for that great display has been updated and made available to us – allowing us to recreate and update the original version.
You should discover many interesting facts and details when you check this program out for yourself. What is surprising to most readers is that the “Blood Doctrine” is ever-changing and fluid. Apparently Jehovah’s holy spirit that guides the Watchtower’s Governing Body can’t quite decide on what the rules should be.
When should blood be rejected?
What substitutes are allowed?
What about organ transplants?
What if the rejection of blood guarantees a sure death?
Is that not suicide – also forbidden by Biblical principles?
Those of us who have followed the subject and watched the Blood Doctrine morph over the years, realize that the Watchtower’s leaders are making it up as they go along. The sad thing for us to consider is that many Jehovah’s Witnesses who died because they followed the Watchtower’s guidelines – even relatively recently – would be alive today if the current rules were effective when they had to make their fateful decision.
Since JW’s are now allowed to take “blood fractions” you have to ask yourself where do blood fractions come from? The answer is WHOLE BLOOD! Since they can accept blood fractions from good will donors why can JW’s NOT donate blood to be used for Blood fraction use? The entire flip flop ever changing rules make no sense.
AT one time JW’s were told and taught that transplants were Cannibalism and that
Vaccinations were evil and did No good whatsoever! The WT also taught that sitting in the Sun for hours and baking was good and a healthy thing to do? All of these have been proved wrong and whacko Ideas. The same with refusing blood. The difference is they are in SO DEEP on this if they change it they will be sued and ostracized by many bc of all those who have died. They have created their own mess and backed themselves into a corner.
Since ‘blood fractions’ come from whole blood, why is not OK to donate blood. Seems like another layer of we can take an not give. (Other example: taking federal housing support and other government assistance, but self righteously refusing to say pledge)
it amazes me how this still sparks debate. I’m an active JW but not all my family are and NONE of us would accept a blood transfusion. I’ve even spent time working with the medical field and wouldn’t touch blood at all. Heck there are even bloodless hospitals in the USA, so are you saying those doctors are wrong?
Nobody ever dies from not having a blood transfusions; they die from the seriousness of their injuries. Transfused blood takes 24 hours to be able to carry oxygen (as its stored in refrigerators) so for the first 24 hours it just acts as a volume expander but with all the dangers a blood transfusion has. I’d go for the blood free 100% safe option. Yet you medically uninformed people and JW haters still harp on about blood transfusions and how they should be accepted. Ask a trained Paediatric Surgeon like Peter Earnshaw in the UK why he operates on children without blood if it’s so necessary!
Joe: please do not make ridiculous assumptions that “no one ever dies from not having a blood transfusion”, because my dear brother in law died just a few years ago due to the religion’s ban on blood transfusions. He had a horrific form of leukemia and his red count was slowly dropping because the religion forbids packed red cells which carries oxygen to the lungs. Since he wasn’t allowed that, the lack of oxygen over a long period of time meant that his lungs were slowly breaking down. He did not die a nice death.
Yes there are cases where surgeries can be performed without blood. However, there are many cases where blood is still needed and without it, Witnesses are still dying.
So please—stop patting yourself on the back as though your religion knows something the rest of us don’t. This doctrine came into place under Freddie Franz and Nathan Knorr. Like many of their doctrines, it’s based on a bizarre interpretation of scripture that bears no resemblance whatsoever to the original meaning. Perhaps you should actually try looking at the big picture instead of the jumbled kaleidoscope of mumbo-jumbo that they use to confuse the rank and file with.
My niece passed away in 2007. She was just 17 yrs old- from refusing blood transfusions. The Ex- JWS have a map put together of the ones that passed from refusing blood transfusions. The loss is enormous….!!! So heart breaking the loss of life…..
of course you have to say that as you are one of those brainwashed Borgs– i feel sorry for you — believe me when the time comes you will have to stand in front of God and come clean and i would not want to be in your or any of those brainwashed Borgs shoes— No loving God would dictate what you believe and looking at the facts JWs are a CULT nothing less….. so crawl back into your Flog and stay there—-
Joe – your comments speak to the effectiveness of the Watchtower’s campaign of misinformation on blood. If you carefully study Watchtower literature you will find they have used many of the same arguments regarding blood transfusions as they used in the past regarding vaccination and organ transplants. I am going to address the points you bring up but lets first set the record straight.
1. At present, the Watchtower permits the use of 100% of blood products as long as they are sufficiently fractionated. Here is a list of WTS permitted blood products:
The largest single component in blood is hemoglobin and the WTS permits it. In fact a red blood cell is nothing more than a doughnut shaped bag of hemoglobin!
2. Nowhere in the Bible can you find any scriptural support for the notion that some parts or components of blood are acceptable and others are not. The WTS simply makes this nonsensical rule up out of thin air. All blood components pass through the placental barrier (this is another bit of
WTS malarkey we have thoroughly debunked and forced them to stop using).
3. Blood transfusions have well known risks, but the WTS exaggerates these and uses very old data that makes them appear much more risky than they actually are. Here is a balanced view:
4. The riskiest type of blood transfusion is an administration of clotting factors because they come from a pool of donated blood. This is something WTS policy has permitted for nearly five decades. So when a JW feels that the policy protected them from AIDS they are very mistaken. JW hemophiliacs had the maximum exposure to AIDS.
“Each batch of Factor VIII is made from plasma that is pooled from as many as 2,500 blood donors.” (The Watchtower, June 15, 1985, p. 30)
“Dr. Margaret Hilgartner of the New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center said: “A severe hemophiliac is exposed to the blood of 800,000 to 1 million different people every year.”” (Awake! Oct. 8, 1988, p. 11)
As to the points you bring up. First that, “no one ever dies from not having a blood transfusion”. This is misinformation. You are essentially saying that it is impossible to die from anemia. Any doctor will tell you this is not the case. There are many, many situations where a transfusion of one of the forbidden blood products is the only viable medical treatment to keep a person alive. Yes, its true that in cases of mass trauma many patients die from their injuries. Frequently, however, a blood transfusion can buy doctors time to repair injuries. Nonetheless, blood remains essential in many complex gynecological and obstetric cases. Diseases of the blood like leukemia, lymphoma and whole range of conditions that can cause your body to quit making red blood cells. No oxygen equals death. Its really that simple.
There is a BIG difference between elective surgery where blood conservation techniques like cell salvage and hemodilution can be employed, and the situations described above. The WTS goes to great lengths to promote these and communicate that there is no need for blood but this is simply not true.
Blood volume expanders are useful for maintaining hemodynamic stability. They will not, however, transport oxygen. Over 60% of Jehovah’s Witnesses whose hemoglobin levels drop below 6 die.
While blood transfusion inefficacy can result from what is referred to as “storage lesion”, it is not a well understood phenomenon. It may be related to storage time or the age of the blood but its not clear. Regulatory measures are in place to minimize the effect including shelf life (42 days). That acknowledged, in cases of massive blood loss preference may be given to FWWB (fresh warm whole blood). However, this notion that it takes 24 hours for blood to begin carrying oxygen to your cells appears to be something of an “urban legend” among JWs. There may be some obscure pseudo scientific basis behind it – not really sure. I don’t know of any hard science that supports it. You can be assured that if a patient is bleeding out, doctors have very sound reasons for hooking them up to a rapid infusion machine like the one manufactured by Belmont. Take 90 seconds and watch the video on this page:
It is very similar with severe childbirth complications such as atonic uterus, uterine rupture, retained placenta, placenta praevia or accreta, and placental abruption. We frequently see JW women die from these conditions because there are no effective substitutes for red cell transfusion. Recent published medical research indicates that a JW woman has a ten fold greater risk of dying during childbirth, and what for? A policy that has a flimsy scriptural basis and is riddled with contradiction.
While we will never know the exact number, it is not a stretch in my opinion, to estimate the number of those sent to an early grave by this policy at in excess of 50,000 JWs. Dr. Muramoto published that approximately 900 JWs die annually. That was 15 years ago and the organization has grown – especially in 3rd world countries with limited blood conservation equipment. I am fairly certain the number is higher now – perhaps 1000 per year.
Joe, I was a 3rd generation JW, regular pioneer, ministerial servant and elder for two decades. I don’t have any desire to have a blood transfusion and I hope you don’t ever need one. The truth of the matter is that its an organ transplant – so its serious business. If I have any viable alternative, I would take it. I would not, however, die over this silly policy. Sooner or later it will be completely gone just like the ban on vaccination and organ transplants. They are products of an older generation of JWs who had a very bad understanding of science and confused a blood transfusion with a meal. They have been stuck and slowly digging their way out for 50 years. Read the material at AJWRB. Much of it was written by HLC members and elders who are very familiar with the policy and the have seen how it plays out in the lives of individual JWs. If you do your own research, I am fairly certain you will reach the same conclusions that I did.
By the way, what do you think to this non-JW site that promotes bloodless surgery?
Makes sense what you say about the fractions. After all, blood is blood!
There is some confusion regarding the difference between “blood conservation medicine” and “bloodless medicine or surgery”. I am a firm believer in “blood conservation medicine” that makes use of cell salvage, hemodilution and other advanced techniques to conserve the patients blood. Note however, that “blood conservation medicine” strives to avoid the use of donor blood – it does not forbid it. If a complication arises that necessitates it, the doctor will use blood.
Bloodless surgery, on the other hand, makes use of the same techniques but under no circumstances uses a blood product currently forbidden by the WTS. It is essentially WTS approved surgery, WTS approved blood products. In other words – it is a ticking time bomb waiting for the right situation to explode in your face. Can it work? Yes. It can work very well if everything remains straightforward. It can also send the patient to the morgue. So while I respect every adults right to choose either approach. I am not a supporter of “bloodless medicine”.
It also greatly disturbs me that most JWs take these additional risks on without understanding the actual risks/benefits. Very difficult to see how they are meeting the legal standard of giving “informed consent”. Unfortunately, we often get involved in these situations too late to be of any real assistance. The only real alternative is to educate physicians and that presents its own challenges.
Lee, that was a very clear rundown of the story on blood. I hope Joe and his family are able to benefit (or better, never need to benefit) from that advice. Unfortunately, many will die this year having no idea that the policy has already changed so much.
Lucidly exposing the misinformation at work here is necessary, and we must keep doing it. I too would rather avoid blood, and where it is safe to do so, I will avoid it. But I have been DISABUSED of the incredibly sophisticated dishonesty of the writing committee of the governing body of Jehovah’s Witnesses, and it is our responsibility to disabuse others.
Thank you for leading this effort!
Actually I agree with JWs about not using blood as in fact the Bible says ‘the life is in the blood’ and Ron Wyatt showed that even long dried blood when rehydtrated showed minute white sparks of life?
So as God says don’t use blood I’ll go along with Him and the JWs.