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Jehovahs Witnesses and Blood Transfusion

Jehovah's Witnesses believe that the Bible (Genesis 9:4, Leviticus 17:10, and Acts 15:29) prohibits ingesting blood and that Christians should therefore not accept blood transfusions or donate or store their own blood for transfusion. Specifically, their beliefs include:

  • Blood represents life and is sacred to God. After it has been removed from a creature, the only use of blood that God has authorized is for the atonement of sins. When a Christian abstains from blood, they are in effect expressing faith that only the shed blood of Jesus Christ can truly redeem them and save their life.
  • Blood must not be eaten or transfused, even in the case of a medical emergency.
  • Blood leaving the body of a human or animal must be disposed of, except for autologous blood transfusions considered part of a current therapy.
  • A baptized Witness who unrepentantly accepts a blood transfusion is deemed to have disassociated himself from the religion by abandoning its doctrines and is subsequently subject to organized shunning by other members.

Watch Tower Society publications teach that the Witnesses' refusal of transfusions of whole blood or its four primary components—red cells, white cells, platelets and plasma—is a non-negotiable religious stand and that those who respect life as a gift from God do not try to sustain life by taking in blood, even in an emergency. The following medical procedures are prohibited:

  • Transfusion of allogeneic whole blood, or of its constituents of red cells, white cells, platelets or plasma.
  • Transfusions of pre-operative autologous blood.

Members of the religion who voluntarily accept a transfusion are regarded as having disassociated themselves from the religion by abandoning its doctrines and are subsequently shunned by members of the organization.

For procedures where there is no specific doctrinal prohibition, individuals are to obtain details from medical personnel and then make a personal decision. The following procedures are left to the decision of individual members:

  • Blood donation strictly for purpose of further fractionation of red cells, white cells, platelets or plasma for either allogeneic or autologous transfusion.
  • Transfusions of autologous blood part of a "current therapy".
  • Hemodilution, a modified technique in which equipment is arranged in a circuit that is constantly linked to the patient's circulatory system.
  • Intraoperative blood salvage (autologous)
  • Heart-Lung Machine
  • Dialysis,
  • Epidural Blood Patch
  • Plasmapheresis,
  • Labeling or Tagging of
  • Platelet Gel
  • Fractions from blood plasma:
    • oAlbumin
    • oGlobulins
    • oCryoprecipitate
    • oCryosupernatant
    • oClotting factor concentrates including Factor VII, VIII and IX
  • Artificial blood substitutes
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