Jehovah's Witnesses and blood transfusions

Jehovah's Witnesses and blood transfusions

Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that the Bible prohibits eating blood, and that this includes the storage and transfusion of blood, including in cases of emergency. This belief was introduced in 1945, and has been elaborated upon since then. Accordingly the organization has established Hospital Information Services responsible for education on and facilitation of “bloodless surgery.” This service also maintains Hospital Liaison Committees whose function is to provide support to adherents.

Although accepted by a majority of Jehovah’s Witnesses, evidence indicates a minority does not wholly endorse this doctrine. Facets of the belief have drawn praise and criticism from both members of the medical community and Jehovah's Witnesses alike.

Current doctrine

The current doctrine states that:

* Blood is sacred to God. [The Watchtower, June 15, 2004 p. 21]
* Blood means life in God's eyes. [How Can Blood Save Your Life, published by Watchtower, 1990 p. 24]
* Blood must not be eaten or transfused. [The Watchtower, June 1, 1969 pp. 326, 327]
* Blood leaving the body of a human or animal must be disposed of,The Watchtower, February 1, 1997 p. 29] except for autologous blood transfusions considered part of a “current therapy”.Instructions for Filling in The Advance Decision Document, published by Watchtower, 2005 p.1. This document specifically applies the term “"transfusion"” to a Jehovah’s Witness patient having blood returned to their cardiovascular system after it was completely removed from their body.] The Watchtower October 15, 2000 pp. 30-31]
* Blood was reserved for only one special use, the atonement for sins, which led up to Jesus' shed blood. [Awake!, August 2006 p. 11]
* When a Christian abstains from blood, he or she is in effect expressing faith that only the shed blood of Jesus Christ can truly redeem him or her and save his or her life. [Awake!, August 2006 p. 11]
* Even in the case of an emergency, it is not permissible to sustain life with transfused blood. [The Watchtower, September 1, 1986 p. 25]
* Conscientious violation of this doctrine is a serious offense, after which a member is subject to organized shunning, known amongst Jehovah's Witnesses as being disfellowshipped or disassociated. [The Watchtower, January 15, 1961 p. 63] [The Watchtower, July 15, 1982 p. 20] [Watchtower media release dated June 14, 2000]

This is based on biblical texts such as ] In a meeting on June 11, 1975, the Governing Body adjusted its position, deciding to allow hemophiliacs to take clotting factors repeatedly. This change of policy was privately communicated to those who had earlier enquired, but was not published until 1978, when it was mentioned briefly in a "Watchtower" article discussing serum injections.

Immunoglobulin injections are also controversial, requiring 3 litres of blood to manufacture and often coming from pooled blood sources containing the blood of up to 60,000 people. Fact|date=February 2007

Further reading

Recent journal publications

*Sloan, J. M.; Ballen, K. (May 2008), [ "SCT in Jehovah's Witnesses: the bloodless transplant"] . "Bone Marrow Transplantation". 41 (10):837-844
*Bayam, Levent; Tait, William F.; MaCartney, Ian D. (October/November 2007), [ "Successful Repair of a Giant Abdominal Aortoiliac Aneurysm in a Jehovah's Witness"] . "Vascular & Endovascular Surgery". 41 (5):460-462
*Massiah, Nadine; Athimulam, Shobana; Loo, Chin; Okolo, Stanley; Yoong, Wai (October 2007), [ "Obstetric care of Jehovah’s Witnesses: a 14-year observational study"] . "Archives of Gynecology & Obstetrics". 276 (4):339-343
*Putney, Leeann J. (July-September 2007), [;jsessionid=L7SZ1Kk2ydSX95VXLv4CHyT09ShYNfyv8nRS92vL3LQTJBbCFrLZ!-406629960!181195629!8091!-1 "Bloodless Cardiac Surgery"] . "Critical Care Nursing Quarterly". 30 (3):263-270
*Eilers, June; Rounds, Luisa (March 2007), [ "Blood Transfusion or Not: A Literature Review of Bloodless Interventions to Treat Cancer Related Anemia"] . "Oncology Nursing Forum". 34 (2):553-554


See also

* Blood transfusions
* Bloodless surgery
* "Knocking", a documentary on Witnesses that features bloodless medicine.

External links

Online articles

* [ Beliefs of Jehovah's Witnesses regarding medical treatment] (JW Public Relations Website)
* [ Jehovah's Witnesses and the Apostolic Decree to "Abstain From Blood"]
* " [ How Can Blood Save Your Life?] " published by Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society
* [ Assorted articles on medical care and blood] published by Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society
* [ The Serious Hazards of Transfusion(SHOT) ]
* [ Hospitals services]
* [ Jehovah's Witnesses teachings on blood] from []
*Raymond Franz a former member of the Governing Body of Jehovah' Witnesses [ critiques this blood policy] controversy in detail.
* [ Rado Vleugel's story] A former Witness talks about his disfellowshipment after "apostasy".
* [ The Jensen Letters] Correspondence between a Jehovah's Witness elder and the Watchtower Society seeking answers to critical questions about important aspects of their blood doctrine. The correspondence begins in 1998 and concludes in 2003 with the writer's resignation as an elder.
* [ Ethical Issues in Compulsory Medical Treatment: A Study of Jehovah's Witnesses]
* [ BBC News - Refusing blood 'source of regret']
* [ Videos on medical care and bloodless techniques] Bloodless Medicine and Transfusion Free Techniques.

Online videos

* [ - Successful bloodless surgery video] A Uterus gets totalled by the new Ligasure Force Triad Energy Platform / Vessel Sealing instrument. The entire procedure is totally laparoscopic and bloodless. Courtesy - The Dr DEEPU RAJKAMAL SELVARAJ (DRS) (Chirurgien Endoscopique) G.G Hospital, Chennai, India
* [ - Successful bloodless surgery video] Dr Leo Orr Discusses Blood components in this part 2 of a 5 part Seminar on Bloodless Medicine and Transfusion Free Surgery Techniques.


* Official website of [ Jehovah's Witnesses and Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania Incorporated]
* Official website of [ "NoBlood"—Blood Management and Avoidance]
* Official website of [ Associated Jehovah's Witnesses for Reform on Blood]
* Official website of [ JW Brothers on Blood]

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