What follows is a collection of quotes from Watchtower Society literature on the subject of albumin. Watchtower writers and representatives are fond of saying that they have “commented consistently” on albumin and other blood fractions. Their published statements clearly prove otherwise as you will see below. This information will help researchers understand the development of the blood doctrine, and document the many changes in policy through the years. Quotes are presented in chronological order. Our editorial comments are in red.
Albumin is wrong – it’s use is banned by scripture
While this physician argues for the use of certain blood fractions, particularly albumin, such also come under the Scriptural ban. In fact, these fractions are being used not only by physicians but also by food processors, and so it would be well to note the labels on such products to see if they contain any blood substances or fractions. When in doubt, it would be best to do without. – Awake! 09/08/1956 p. 20 Emphasis added.
If the albumin is from blood – you must avoid it
If you have reason to believe that a certain product contains blood or a blood fraction, ask the one who sells it. If he does not know, write to the manufacturer. Sometimes labels show whether a blood fraction is used, but not always. For example, a label may say that a certain product contains albumin. Does that mean that it contains a blood fraction? Look up the word albumin in a good reference book, perhaps an encyclopedia in your local library or even a good dictionary. You will learn that albumin is found, not only in blood serum, but also in milk and eggs. The only way to find out the source of the albumin in the particular product in question is to make inquiry of those who prepare it. However, if the label says that certain tablets contain hemoglobin, similar checking will reveal that this is from blood; so a Christian knows, without asking, that he should avoid such a preparation. Clearly, these are matters that each individual can best check on locally. The Watchtower 11/01/1961, p. 669 Emphasis added
Albumin exists in blood plasma
Your plasma also contains albumin. It works to retain water in your bloodstream, thus keeping the plasma in a liquid state and flowing in your system. If you experienced edema or swelling of your body, a blood test might show that your albumin level had dropped, and so let water from your blood escape through capillary walls and accumulate in your body tissue. Awake! 03/22/1976, p. 11,12 Emphasis added.
NEW LIGHT ON ALBUMIN!
Albumin is now OK, if you’re reading close.
“While these verses are not stated in medical terms, Witnesses view them as ruling out transfusion of whole blood, packed RBCs, and plasma, as well as WBC and platelet administration. However, Witnesses religious understanding does not absolutely prohibit the use of components such as albumin, immune globulins, and hemophiliac preparations; each Witness must decide individually if he can accept these.” Awake 06/22/82 p. 25 Emphasis added.
Take note of how the WTS announces this major shift in policy. The average Jehovah’s Witness surely had no idea that God had suddenly changed his thinking about albumin, mysteriously conveyed this message to the Governing Body in Brooklyn, and that the use of albumin was no longer a gross sin requiring an investigation by a judicial committee with possible sanctions (disfellowshipping/excommunication). It would be nearly eight more years before Witnesses would begin to question this dramatic but veiled shift in WTS policy.
But why is albumin OK?
Do Jehovah’s Witnesses accept injections of a blood fraction, such as immune globulin or albumin? Some do, believing that the Scriptures do not clearly rule out accepting an injection of a small fraction, or component, taken from blood…In view of the command to ‘abstain from blood,’ some Christians have felt that they should not accept an immune globulin (protein) injection, even though it was only a blood fraction. Their stand is clear and simple – no blood component in any form or amount. Others have felt that a serum (antitoxin), such as immune globulin, containing only a tiny fraction of a donor’s blood plasma and used to bolster their defense against disease, is not the same as a life – sustaining blood transfusion. So their consciences may not forbid them to take immune globulin or similar fractions….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. – The Watchtower 06/01/1990 p. 30 Emphasis added
The Watchtower is clearly aware that the basis for their major/minor blood component policy is completely without merit. All major blood components also pass through the placental barrier as we have demonstrated.
• Is it proper for a Christian to receive an injection of a blood fraction, such as immune globulin or albumin?
Responding to God’s law, Christians do not accept blood transfusions of the major blood components—plasma, red cells, white cells, or platelets. Some of Jehovah’s Witnesses, however, have conscientiously felt able to receive an injection of one of the small protein fractions of the plasma. Interestingly, some of these proteins naturally pass from the bloodstream of a pregnant woman to the separate blood system of her fetus. – The Watchtower 08/15/1990, p. 29 Emphasis added
Here we see the full-blown major/minor blood fraction policy of the WTS. You will note how albumin is described as a “small protein fraction.” What you won’t notice is that albumin constitutes a far greater percentage of blood volume than do the forbidden components – white blood cells and platelets.
“…the Japanese Health and Welfare Ministry has tried to clamp down on the trade, saying that it is unreasonable to profit from blood. In fact, the Ministry charges that medical institutions in Japan make some $200,000,000 in profits each year from just one plasma component, albumin.” Awake! 10/22/1990, p. 5
If one looks at all of the blood articles in the October 22, 1990 Awake! magazine, it would appear that the WTS felt the need to reassure Witnesses that despite the fact that is was OK to now use all of the various blood products approved for use by the WTS, the organization was still opposed to the use of blood. It seems likely that the Watchtower Service department must have been quite busy trying to answer questions regarding the albumin policy.
The Questions keep coming!
Questions From Readers
Would it be proper to accept a vaccination or some other medical injection containing albumin derived from human blood?
Frankly, each Christian must personally decide on this.
God’s servants rightly want to obey the directive found at Acts 15:28, 29, to abstain from blood. Accordingly, Christians will not eat unbled meat or products such as blood sausage. But God’s law also applies in the medical area. Jehovah’s Witnesses carry a document stating that they refuse ‘blood transfusions, whole blood, red cells, white cells, platelets, or blood plasma.’ What, though, about serum injections containing a tiny amount of a blood protein?
Witnesses have long realized that this is a matter for private decision in accord with each one’s Bible-trained conscience. This was pointed out in “Questions From Readers” of The Watchtower of June 1, 1990, which discussed serum injections that a physician may recommend if one is exposed to certain diseases. The active components of such injections are not blood plasma per se but antibodies from the blood plasma of those who have developed resistance. Some Christians who feel that they can in good conscience accept such injections have noted that antibodies from the blood of a pregnant woman cross into the blood of the baby in her womb. “Questions From Readers” mentioned this, as well as the fact that some albumin passes from a pregnant woman to her baby.
Many find this noteworthy, since some vaccines that are not prepared from blood may contain a relatively small amount of plasma albumin that was used or added to stabilize the ingredients in the preparation. Currently a small amount of albumin is also used in injections of the synthetic hormone EPO (erythropoietin). Some Witnesses have accepted injections of EPO because it can hasten red blood cell production and so may relieve a physician of a feeling that a blood transfusion might be needed.
Other medical preparations may come into use in the future that involve a comparatively small amount of albumin, since pharmaceutical companies develop new products or change the formulas of existing ones. Christians may thus want to consider whether albumin is part of a vaccination or other injection that a doctor recommends. If they have doubts or have reason to believe that albumin is a component, they can inquire of their physician.
As noted, many Witnesses have not objected to accepting an injection that contains a small quantity of albumin. Still, anyone wanting to study the matter more thoroughly before making a personal decision should review the information presented in “Questions From Readers” of The Watchtower of June 1, 1990. The Watchtower 10/1/1994, p. 31 Emphasis added.
Mia receives a blood transfusion – injection sounds better!
The doctors decided to provide alternative treatment. Plasma was extracted from the blood, and thus antibodies attacking my blood cells and kidney tissues were removed. I was then given injections of Ringer’s solution together with albumin. I had discussed this treatment with the doctors and gave them written permission to administer it. Awake! 02/22/1995, p. 21 Emphasis added.
Note the subtle message here regarding giving the hospital written permission to administer the blood product – albumin.
H.L.C. Members trained to send the message – we use albumin!
Seminars to Improve Relations Between Doctors and Jehovah’s Witnesses
“The liaison committee members have been trained to handle many common questions raised by both hospitals and physicians, occasionally even Witnesses themselves. This might include issues like the acceptability of immunoglobulins or albumin, the use of cryoprecipitate or medical techniques such as hemodilution, extracorporeal circulation, the cell saver, or hemodialysis. Awake 03/22/1995, p. 20
Note: The medical techniques of hemodilution, extracorporeal circulation and the use of the cell saver are all forms of autologous blood transfusion.
Witnesses still not getting the message!
*** From Our Readers ***
Near Death – I am writing regarding the article “Doctors Learned From My Near Death.” (December 22, 1995) Is not erythropoietin buffered with a small percentage of albumin, a blood protein?
R. P., United States
In some cases, yes, and each Christian must personally decide whether or not to accept medications that contain small amounts of albumin. For a detailed discussion, please see “Questions From Readers” in the October 1, 1994, and June 1, 1990, issues of “The Watchtower.”—ED. Awake! 11/08/1996 p. 30 Emphasis added
Note how the WTS groups EPO (erythropoietin) with “medications that contain small amounts of albumin.” This is nothing more than a shell game, an attempt to disguise the fact that Witnesses accept four of the nine most common forms of blood transfusion, and that albumin is hardly a minor blood component when it’s volume (2.2%) is compared to WTS banned components like white cells (1%) and platelets (0.17%).
As difficult as it was for Witnesses to accept, the WTS had granted them permission to use Albumin. If the use of blood is truly wrong as the Watchtower continues to argue, then why is the use of albumin permissible? Additionally, the ban on albumin was in place for thirty-seven years.
Thinking, rational Jehovah’s Witnesses want to know:
- Was this ban from men or was it from God?
- If it was from God then why did the WTS change its policy?
- If it was from men, then how can God be directing the Watchtower Society?
- Millions are looking to the Watchtower for what basically constitutes medical advice on the use of blood products. Is their advice sound?
- Have they commented consistently on the use of Albumin?