The Jehovah’s Witness Blood Issue: Resolved! Part 7: Sense Over Nonsense!

First a bit of Nonsense for your amusement:

The blood in any person is in reality the person himself… The poisons that produce the impulse to commit suicide, murder, or steal are in the blood… Moral insanity, sexual perversions, repression, inferiority complexes, petty crimes – these often follow in the wake of blood transfusion.”
Watchtower 1961 Sep 15 p.564

The Bible does not speak of a symbolic or spiritual heart in contradistinction to the fleshly or literal heart, just as it does not speak of a symbolic mind, and thus we do not want to make the mistake of viewing the literal heart as merely a fleshly pump as does orthodox physiology today… more significantly, our emotional and motivating capacities are built within it. Love, hate, desire (good and bad), preference for one thing over another, ambition, fear—in effect, all that serves to motivate us in relationship to our affections and desires springs from the heart.”
Watchtower 1971 March 1 p.133

And, if you believe the above is true, get ready for the contradiction “new light”:

The ancient Egyptians believed that the physical heart was the seat of intelligence and the emotions. They also thought that it had a will of its own. The Babylonians said that the heart housed the intellect as well as love. The Greek philosopher Aristotle taught that it was the seat of the senses and the domain of the soul. But as time passed and knowledge increased, these views were discarded. Finally the heart became known for what it is, a pump to circulate the blood throughout the body.
The Watchtower, June 1, 1986, page 15

We have now gathered several such gems from the Watchtower over the course of these articles. In our journey towards resolution of the blood issue it might be good to summarize some of this medical wisdom handed down by the Watchtower over the years, and see just how right they have always been:

Witnesses are told that they must follow the dictates of the Watchtower unquestioningly because the Governing Body is the “faithful and discreet slave” appointed over them by their god Jehovah and his son Jesus. This is the real reason why Witnesses refuse transfusions. However, given the track record shown above, just how discreet has the Governing Body proven itself to be?

Being discreet means that you don’t just blurt out the first thing that pops into your head without verifying that it is true. This is especially so when people’s lives are at stake. Yet this is exactly what the Governing Body has done again and again and again, until it’s easy to see that they have been anything but discreet.

Since they have not been discreet it follows that they cannot be “the faithful and discreet slave” that they claim to be.

Since they are not “the faithful and discreet slave,” there is no reason for Jehovah’s Witnesses to refuse transfusions based on their say-so. This is especially true since what they say is nonsensical.

Back to the Nonsense

Although the current ban allows Witnesses to accept blood fractions, they have to obtain these from us “worldly” folks; they themselves are not allowed to donate blood — not even autologous blood (blood stored and reserved for the donor’s private use should the need arise.)

I sure hope they don’t inherit any of our “moral insanity and sexual perversions” or “the impulse to commit suicide, murder, or steal” from the blood we donate to them! Maybe the intrepid medical experts at Watchtower headquarters have developed a way to cut these objectionable things out during their fractionation of our blood. {sarcasm}

Also, keep in mind that the Watchtower blood ban applies to your pets as well: you can’t allow your vet to give your pet a transfusion, nor can you feed your pet anything with blood in it.

Part of the reason why the Watchtower changed its mind and started allowing blood fractions has to do with taking a lesson from nature:

That some protein fractions from the plasma do move naturally into the blood system of another individual (the fetus) may be another consideration when a Christian is deciding whether he will accept immune globulin, albumin, or similar injections of plasma fractions. One person may feel that he in good conscience can; another may conclude that he cannot. Each must resolve the matter personally before God.”
Watchtower 1990 Jun 1 p.31

The above is basing the acceptability of blood fractions on the fact that such fractions are naturally transferred between a mother and fetus. However,  some red blood cells (and possibly other components)  can also pass through the placental barrier (at least at birth), so on this reasoning the Watchtower should permit transfusion of the “major components” of blood as well. But they don’t; their rules lack all consistency and sense.

And, if they’re going to take guidance from nature when it comes to blood transfer (as the above reasoning implies), then they need to contemplate the many Obligatory hematophagous critters that their god Jehovah created in such a way that they cannot survive without eating whole blood! If their god really didn’t want any animals drinking blood, why did he create such creatures as the leech, and bedbugs?

If you’re not allowed to feed your pet blood, then I hope you don’t have a pet vampire bat, or a lion (whom the Bible tells us will naturally lap up blood.)

Though storing their own blood for later use is prohibited for Witnesses by the Watchtower, they are allowed to use intraoperative blood salvage (aka “cell salvage”). This is where a patient’s own blood is salvaged during surgery and returned to them. Revealingly, according to Wikipedia, this process is also known as “autologous blood transfusion.”

The only difference between this permitted procedure and what the Watchtower distinguishes as the prohibited “autologous blood transfusion” is the length of time the blood is stored. The same can be said of dialysis: a permitted procedure in which the blood is stored for short periods of time when the dialysis machine pauses. Now, why in the name of all that’s holy, do you suppose their god would care about a time limit? If something is wrong it isn’t right for a few minutes or even a few seconds; it’s wrong from beginning to end.

The Watchtower’s rationale for prohibiting autologous blood transfusion is that “blood is supposed to be poured out onto the ground”; not stored for later use (based on the Mosaic Law, which they admit is not binding today.) Yet, what do they suppose is done with the blood we donate for their permitted fractions? It isn’t “poured out onto the ground”; it is stored for their later use.

The Watchtower’s stance on blood is so convoluted and nonsensical that most Witnesses don’t understand what is permitted and what is outlawed. For this reason the Watchtower has set up “Hospital Liaison Committees,” ostensibly to inform both the patients and their doctors of the Watchtower’s rules (while in reality fulfilling the more important function of pressuring Witnesses into conformity with those rules by obstructing any privacy in their decision-making and serving as visual reminders of their impending shunning should they disobey.)

And Now for Some Sense:

Have you ever been bitten by a mosquito? Most people have, including Jehovah’s Witnesses. That makes them blood donors, whether they like it or not. It’s a natural process that the Watchtower’s god Jehovah has created. Female mosquitoes require the blood of other creatures (such as you and me) in order to survive.

If this god had a thing about animals eating other animals’ blood, he certainly wouldn’t have created vampire bats and gone out of his way to make it easier for them to drink blood by putting anticoagulants in their saliva to inhibit their victim’s blood from clotting.

So, nature teaches us that its creator (if it had one) had no qualms about one animal drinking the blood of another. And as for Jehovah’s Witnesses, they:

  • eat blood (in non-kosher meat)
  • donate blood (to mosquitoes)
  • accept fractionated blood transfusions
  • accept whole blood transfusions (autologous within a time limit)

More than that, upon examination the Watchtower rules of today actually permit a Witness to transfuse whole blood (non-autologous and with no time limit)!

To prove the above startling assertion, please consider the following quotes from Watchtower publications:

Regarding the transplantation of human tissue or bone from one human to another, this is a matter for conscientious decision by each one of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
(The Watchtower, March 15, 1980, p. 31)

As cardiovascular surgeon Denton Cooley notes: ‘A blood transfusion is an organ transplant.’
(Awake! Oct. 22, 1990, p. 9)

When doctors transplant a heart, a liver, or another organ, the recipient’s immune system may sense the foreign tissue and reject it. Yet, a transfusion is a tissue transplant.
(How Can Blood Save Your Life, 1990, p. 8; emphasis in original)

Now here’s the syllogism derived from the above Watchtower quotations:

  • Organ transplants are permitted to Jehovah’s Witnesses by the Watchtower.
  • “A blood transfusion is an organ transplant.”
  • Therefore, blood transfusion are permitted to Jehovah’s Witnesses by the Watchtower.

No one within the organization seems to have connected the above dots yet, but now you have.

Some Facts About Transfusions
  • More than 4.5 million patients need blood transfusions each year in the U.S. and Canada alone.
  • 43,000 pints is the amount of donated blood used each day just in the U.S. and Canada.
  • Someone needs blood every two seconds.
  • About 1 in 7 people entering a hospital need blood.
  • Children being treated for cancer, premature infants, and children having heart surgery need blood and platelets from donors of all types, especially type O.
  • Anemic patients need blood transfusions to increase their red blood cell levels.
  • Cancer, transplant and trauma patients, and patients undergoing open-heart surgery may require platelet transfusions to survive.
  • Sickle cell disease is an inherited disease that affects between 90,000 to 100,000 people in the United States, 98 percent of whom are of African descent. Many patients with severe sickle cell disease receive blood transfusions every month.
  • A patient could be forced to pass up a lifesaving organ, if compatible blood is not available to support the transplant.
  • Thirteen tests (11 for infectious diseases) are performed on each unit of donated blood.

The Watchtower has gone to great lengths to selectively quote-mine bad experiences with transfusions, and neglects to give its readers a balanced view. Millions of transfusions have been successfully performed, and countless lives have been saved as a result.

While it is true that a transfusion — just like every other medical procedure — has its risks, it’s also true that the risks are small, and nearly always smaller than the risks one runs without having a needed transfusion. Each individual must weigh the risks against the benefits of any medical procedure and decide for themselves (without the coercion of a “liaison committee” or collections of half-truths, slanted information, and cherry-picked anecdotes).

When I had major surgery many years ago I had to have several units of blood transfused into me. Thankfully I was no longer a Witness at the time, and didn’t hesitate for a moment to accept the blood. Otherwise I would’ve bled to death and wouldn’t be writing this. After the transfusions I did not become a murderer, thief, or sexual pervert [Honest! Just ask my wife.] Since then I have tried to return the favor by donating whole blood and platelets many times.

Yes, there are now alternatives to transfusions in some cases, and in some instances bloodless surgeries are available. That’s great. But there are still many instances every day where whole blood is the only available or sensible choice. Someday transfusions may no longer be needed, but that will never excuse the deaths the Watchtower’s baseless bans have caused and continue to cause.

So, please:

Think, and live.

Think, and be free!


Next up, our final chapter: Taking Responsibility.

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