Many Jehovah’s Witnesses sincerely believe that it is a gross sin to accept a blood transfusion, since the Bible states that we must “abstain from blood.” (Acts 15:29) It is quite understandable that many are confused by the position taken by the Watchtower Society (WTS) with respect to the various blood components or blood products like albumin, erythropoietins, vaccines, immunoglobulins, and hemophiliac treatments. It does not seem possible to explain why it is a violation of God’s law to accept plasma, platelets, red and white cells when all the fractions of these are permitted by the WTS. These contradictions have caused a number of elders and Hospital Liaison Committee Members to quietly resign.
The Watchtower and Jehovah’s Witnesses in general still cling to the “no blood” mantra. As you will see in this section, that claim is extraordinarily dishonest. The Watchtower has approved the use of all red cell, white cell, platelet and plasma derivatives. The list of blood products Jehovah’s Witnesses can choose to use in good conscience has grown larger and larger over the last three decades. If fact, the list has become so extensive, it’s easier to say what they don’t permit:
- Whole Blood
- Red Cells
- White Cells
The “No Blood Card” that Jehovah’s Witnesses carry with them has experienced very significant changes over the years, as you will see in this article. It was simply referred to as “the blood card” for many decades, then came to be called “the Advanced Medical Directive”. The last major change occurred in 2004, when it was combined with a Durable Power of Attorney specific to each state and is at times referred to as the “DPA”.
The first example shown is one of the older versions of the blood card that Witnesses carried back in the 1960’s. You will note its clear and uncompromising statement about the use of blood. It says specifically “I demand that blood, in any way, shape or form, is NOT to be fed into my body…”
Most Jehovah’s Witnesses will be completely unaware of the Watchtower Society’s (WTS) once firm position against the “crime” of vaccination. During the centuries great plagues and illnesses have taken hundreds of millions of victims, sometimes even devastated civilizations. In the early part of the last century humanity was on the verge of a new age, when plagues as old as mankind were about to be extinguished. The tool was compulsory vaccination programs. Especially smallpox, one of the most deadly diseases in history, was targeted for extermination, and thanks to the vaccination program this was accomplished.
The WTS did not consider this program a benefit to humankind:
Largely as a result of the work of AJWRB and its supporters, it has become fairly well-known that the Watchtower permits the use of all plasma derivatives. These are concentrates of specific plasma proteins that are prepared from pools (many units) of Plasma.
(This illustration is taken from the October 22, 1990 issue of Awake! You will note that plasma constitutes 55% of the blood. Since the Watchtower Society allows Witnesses to accept the separate components of plasma, it is only reasonable to ask why they forbid the use of plasma itself?)
Plasma derivatives are obtained through a process, known as fractionation, developed during World War II, and are heat-treated and/or solvent detergent- treated to kill certain viruses, including HIV and hepatitis B and C. Plasma derivatives include:
As with blood, the Watchtower Society (WTS) originally had no objections to organ transplants. In a Questions from Readers section in The Watchtower, Aug. 1, 1961, page 480, the question about organ transplants is answered pointedly:
“• Is there anything in the Bible against giving one’s eyes (after death) to be transplanted to some living person?—L. C., United States.
The question of placing one’s body or parts of one’s body at the disposal of men of science or doctors…is frowned upon by certain religious bodies…”