Press Release – September 15, 2014

The Advocates for Jehovah’s Witness Reform on Blood ( AKA Associated Jehovah’s Witnesses for Reform on Blood) welcome the stand taken by, and fully support Brett and Naghmeh King’s decision to allow blood transfusions for their son Ashya, should they be needed.

We acknowledge that these are dissident views not supported by the Watchtower Society, or Jehovah’s Witnesses as an organization.

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Watchtower Sacrificial Lambs

may26-94-awWhy Are These Kids Dead?


Adrian Yeattes Age 15


Lisa Kosack Age 12


Wyndham Cook Age 15


Lenea Martinez Age 12

Dan Christian Anderson Age 15

Dan Christian Anderson Age 15





Featured on the cover of the May 22, 1994 Awake! magazine are the photos of 26 children, ages varying up to 17 years, with the caption: “Youths Who Put God First.” Inside the magazine proclaims: “In former times thousands of youths died for putting God first.  They are still doing it, only today the drama is played out in hospitals and courtrooms, with blood transfusions the issue.” View a PDF of this quote.

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Jehovah’s Witness girl saved by court

1040136_82699226In an article written by Zelda Venter and published on June 7, 2014, by IOL news of South Africa, a 10-year-old Jehovah’s Witness girl was saved in South Africa when “The Centre for Child Law” in Pretoria instructed an advocate to go to the Durban High Court after parents refused life saving treatment for their anemic child who suffered from a bleeding disorder. This was possible because the child’s doctor – a specialist in paediatric haematology – took the necessary step to get the child treatment rather than trying to accommodate the parents wishes. Ironically, the child needed a platelet transfusion. Platelets are among the smallest of all blood components and literally dwarfed in size by the much larger components permitted by Watchtower policy. For now, the story is available online here.

Jehovah’s Witnesses, Blood Transfusions, and the Tort of Misrepresentation.

may26-94-awAfter the death of her mother, we were contacted by Kerry Louderback-Wood. She later wrote the following article for the Journal of Church and State’s Autumn 2005 issue. The article shows how the Watchtower Society might be held legally responsible for failure to properly disseminate its religious beliefs to followers. She dedicates the article to the children who have been harmed by the Watchtower’s policies on the use of blood and she continues to speak out on this subject.

Jehovah’s Witnesses, Blood Transfusions, and the Tort of Misreprersentation

My Child is Dead

dak100x137My son was theocratic – bright and promising and a true servant of Jehovah. He dreamed of going to Bethel to serve Jehovah more fully. He prepared for meetings on his own, pioneered during summer breaks, handled the microphones at the Kingdom Hall, and timed the student talks for the Ministry School Overseer. He even gave talks at assemblies. We were so proud!

He was 15 years old and in the 9th grade when he and another young Witness were in a terrible auto accident. The other boy was driving my son home from the Sunday meeting when he raced the car, lost control and flipped. I was a faithful Witness for 29 years, and my husband and I trained our son to refuse blood transfusions. He told the ambulance drivers, “No blood!” and he said it again at the first hospital before he became unconscious. When he was air lifted to the trauma center, he was immediately transfused because he was unconscious and a minor.

By then, however, a lot of time had passed and there had been severe internal bleeding that had damaged his heart and other organs. When we arrived at the trauma center, the doctor told us that he had little chance of survival without blood transfusions, and that they had given him several units when he arrived. This angered my husband a great deal but I said nothing. Secretly, I had hoped the doctors would give him blood despite our wishes if a transfusion could save his life. The doctor said they restarted his heart twice and that gave us a glimmer of hope but twenty minutes later, with tears in his eyes, the doctor said they couldn’t restart his heart a third time – he had died.

My husband and my two other sons and I cried and cried and cried. I have never known such anguish and physical pain! I wanted to die. The pain was unbearable. I kept thinking, “Would he have lived if he got blood at the first hospital?” A spiral of profound change began in my life.

When you see your child lying wrapped in a white sheet, their pale lifeless face – there is no comfort. I will be forever carrying that picture of my son in my mind – wearing the face of death. No words can touch that place where your heart is dying. The hope of the resurrection means nothing when you can’t see or touch the living-breathing child that filled your life with joy. Never seeing them smile at you, laugh with you, or give you a hug ever again in the days to come. Never hearing them say, “I love you” again. I’ve suffered pain, but nothing compared to the pain of losing my beloved son. Your whole body becomes sickened with the most horrible physical pain one can feel. I’ve suffered pain, but nothing compared to the pain of losing a child.

I pray that any Jehovah’s Witness who has children and reads this will never have to face such a loss such as mine. A loss that can be prevented if they have a true understanding of what the Watchtower Society is asking them to sacrifice. After my son had died, I realized my nagging doubts about the Watchtower’s blood policies needed to be fully investigated. Hadn’t I just lost a child for these purportedly God-given laws I had lived by for 29 years?

I soon learned that over the years the Witnesses have changed many teachings about blood and that the Governing Body was about to change more of its blood doctrines. Why are some parts of blood permitted when others are not? Where did they find this in the Bible? In addition, if the Bible says nothing about transfusions, how can the Governing Body say with certainty that blood transfusions are wrong in Jehovah’s eyes? How could I forgive those men for my son’s death? In my opinion, the men of the Governing Body have the blood of many innocents on their hands. They who taught us falsely in God’s name are accountable to him.

My heart is completely broken – my child is dead. I beg of you who read my story, don’t let this happen to you. Educate yourself now before you are faced with a similar tragedy. If any child can be saved by their parents thinking now rather than after they lose their child, perhaps my son’s death will not have been for nothing.


Blood Transfusion: Letter of Understanding

may26-94-awThe following article is republished from the Blog of Marvin Shilmer and demonstrates that the Watchtower Society (WTS) is continuing to quietly back down from their once firm position on the use of blood for Jehovah’s Witness minors – particularly with respects to very young children who would have no hope of being granted “mature minor” status by the courts.

I’m much pleased to make available a beautiful piece of work that’s been around since at least 2007 but with very little publicity.

It’s documentation put together by diligent medical ethicists and at the urging of Watchtower appointed Hospital Liaison Committees of Jehovah’s Witnesses.

The document used by The Hospital for Sick Kids in Toronto, Canada looks like this[1]:

Letter of Understanding, JWs blood transfusion 2007

(click image to enlarge)

This Letter of Understanding is something medical professionals treating children of Jehovah’s Witnesses have always wanted: to be left alone to do what’s in the best interest of saving a child from pain, sickness and/or death if possible.

What’s changed

Completing this document requires no knowledge that 1) a treating physician has record of good cooperation with Jehovah’s Witness patients, 2) a past record of performing a particular “bloodless” procedure along with 3) sentiment that the same procedure will be “no problem” this time. This is a change from Watchtower’s published policy dating to 1992.[2]

The Letter of Understanding document is a written and signed record that parents of a Witness child have been informed their child will be given the best medical treatment available, including transfusion of blood products forbidden under Watchtower doctrine if treating physicians deem it necessary.

Watchtower’s okay with it

The November 2012 issue of The American Journal of Bioethics reports that when Witness parents have refused consent for medically necessary blood transfusion the local Watchtower appointed Hospital Liaison Committee members have stepped forward requesting the option of having parents sign one of these letters of understanding in order to avoid involvement of child protective services.[3]

My recommendation and an observation

Every parent among Jehovah’s Witnesses worried about how local Watchtower appointed elders will respond to letting their child have blood transfusion without opposing it should download this Letter of Understanding and be ready to hand a copy to them. Then ask those elders to leave them (the parents) and doctors alone to concentrate on the child’s best interests.

Given all the time, money and publishing resources the Watchtower organization has poured into the subject of blood transfusion, individual patients, hospital administrators and treating physicians are left wondering why Watchtower has yet to advertise this option to the larger community of Jehovah’s Witnesses, and why this option is not otherwise heavily advertised by every hospital knowing of it. The document above is dated 2007 yet until now was not published anywhere known to this author, and certainly the Watchtower organization has never published this.[4-5]

Marvin Shilmer

1. Letter of Understanding, Jehovah’s Witness patients and blood transfusion, The Hospital for Sick Children, 2007.

2. Safeguarding Your Children From Misuse of Blood, Our Kingdom Ministry, published by Watchtower, September 1992, p. 3.

3. “The JW Hospital Liaison Committee members supporting this couple inquired whether an option existed for them to sign a letter of understanding (LOU) indicating their acknowledgment that their child will receive necessary transfusions, without requiring either their explicit consent or [Child Protective Services] involvement to temporarily apprehend the child.”—(Frolic et al, Opening the Black Box of Ethics Policy Work: Evaluating a Covert Practice, The American Journal of Bioethics, Vol. 12, No. 11, November 2012, pp. 3–15)

4. First hint of this document came in early 2008 after reading the article “Only flesh with its soul–its blood–you must not eat” (Dr. Christine Harrison, Paediatric Child Health, Vol. 12, No. 10, December 2007, pp. 867-868) and attempting to retrieve an unpublished referenced guideline titled Jehovah’s Witnesses and Blood Products within The Hospital for Sick Children. Success in obtaining the policy and the Letter of Understanding is recent. It turns out Dr. Harrison was the issuing authority within The Hospital for Sick Children for the policy and letter.

5. More recently talk of this document is found in a December 20, 2012 article of the National Post titled Without fanfare, Jehovah’s Witnesses quietly soften position on blood transfusions, by Tom Blackwell.