We are asking Jehovah’s Witnesses and concerned family members to send the following letter to their Jehovah’s Witness friends, family and congregation members. The letter has been drafted and approved by Watchtower Elders and HLC officials in different countries.
Please put a list of people you know together, and mail this letter to them. Please make this a priority, and spread the word. The deaths need to stop, and you can make a difference. Please do what you can to spread the word on the letter writing campaign. Forward this communication to interested parties. Place an announcement on your web page if you have one. Thank you for your assistance.
Elders and Hospital Liaison Committee Members
Dear Br. or Sister:
We are a group of elders and Hospital Liaison Committee members in different places and countries. We have been able to talk and communicate about our assignment and also share different experiences about the work that has been done. We are very pleased that much good has been accomplished in behalf of our brothers. Many not professing to be Jehovah’s Witnesses have also benefited from the arrangement.
It is widely acknowledged, even by doctors, that blood can be a dangerous medical treatment. Many positive things can be said regarding alternative non-blood therapies, there is no denying that. At the same time the facts are, that our work would not be necessary if medical science were to find a replacement for blood. However, at this time, blood is still a valuable product for saving lives and sometimes we overlook the benefit and the importance of using it.
Even among the HLC members who have many years of experience in their assignment, you can find a complete ignorance of why blood is used. Often times the only thing that many know about blood, is that it is a dangerous medical treatment and should be avoided. Not just because of Biblical reasons, but because they believe that it is bad medicine, and that there are good alternative products available.
A serious question that must be answered is: What is blood? This may seem like a simple question to answer, but it is not, for there are a number of blood components that the Society permits Witnesses to take. Are these components not also blood, and how is it decided which parts of the blood are acceptable, and which are not? Since it is acceptable to introduce these “allowed components” into our bodies, it is understandable that Witnesses and medical personnel are confused by our position. Although this question has been in the minds of many brothers, no one dares to deal with the question publicly. Why?
Albumin is another problem. We accept albumin as a matter of conscience, although the blood contains more albumin than white blood cells, which we must reject. Many doctors are also confused by this position, but they usually are so respectful, and most of them think that there are religious principles involved although a clear contradiction exists. What doctors don’t know, and we are not permitted to explain to them, is that this position is clearly an organizational ruling for the members, and lacks any logical reason or scriptural support.
For those who have spent some time studying the Watchtower Society’s position on the use of blood, one of the most troubling aspects is their allowance of all of the various components of fresh frozen plasma (F.F.P.). Thus Witnesses may elect to accept the various immunoglobulins, the clotting factors, albumin and so forth. They may not, however take all of them at the same time.
The most depressing feature of being a member of a HLC is when our children are involved. Why has the Society completely failed to gain one legal case when it comes to minor children? It is obvious, there is nothing so effective as human blood to transport oxygen and today there is nothing to replace its use in the medical field. We must appreciate the fact that the legal system protects our children. Even for us, as members of HLC’s, we realize that it is much easier to work with the doctors knowing the rules and laws about minor children. Every Jehovah’s Witness should know, although there have been cases where Witness parents have acted against it, that parental authority is not absolute and that there can be no guarantee of bloodless treatment for Witness minors in general. They should understand that the state, has the right to provide treatment believed to be necessary to safeguard a child’s life or health.
When there are effective alternatives available, when there is a choice to be made, that choice should be made by the parent and not by some doctor, social worker, or judge. But here one needs to ask an important question: Who is qualified to make a decision about alternative non-blood management, and will that decision adequately meet or respond to the child’s needs? As members of the HLC’s we have been eye witnesses of cases where cooperative doctors have followed the parents wishes for alternative non-blood therapy, and the results have sometimes been tragic, with just one more unnecessary death being the result.
When we as Jehovah’s Witnesses look back and remember the wounded and dead brothers who did not accept vaccinations, blood serums, organ transplants or hemophiliac treatments, we must acknowledge that they took their stand largely because of an organizational policy and prohibition forced upon them. These positions have now been abandoned by the leadership, and we rarely if ever see brothers refusing vaccinations, organ transplants, or any of the blood components on the Society’s approved list. This fact alone should cause anyone involved in these situations to pause and reflect seriously about the real issues involved. Is the issue truly one of conscience, and if so, whose conscience?
Is the Society’s blood doctrine actually correct? Why do so many brothers enter into an inner conflict about the issue when they consider the biblical facts? Has the Society really provided us with the truth, and all of the Biblical facts regarding blood? Do they realize that in accepting some minor blood components they have created a tremendous contradiction in their once firm stand? Where are the serious and solid arguments against stored autologous blood transfusions? Do they appreciate that their position kills many precious minor children, unless the legal system steps in to provide protection for their life and health? Should our main concern as Jehovah’s Witnesses be to look for medical alternatives, or to confront ourselves with the biblical facts about life and blood?
We are writing you out of a sense of obligation to Christian principles and conscience. We encourage you to visit the internet website entitled: NEW LIGHT ON BLOOD. This site has been carefully researched and will provide you with the Biblical, scientific and historical facts regarding blood transfusions. Here you will find all of the facts, not simply those that support the Watchtower Society’s current position. We would hope that your faith in Jehovah God is strong enough for you to examine both sides of this issue.
Here is the address: http://www.ajwrb.org
We have addressed our concerns to branch representatives and members of the Governing Body. No responses have been forthcoming. If this matter were not so serious, if precious lives were not being lost nearly everyday, surely we could wait on Jehovah to correct matters in his time. Sadly, we believe that change is being held up because the Society’s legal department fears a backlash of litigation from Witnesses who have lost loved ones over this issue. Whether or not this would in fact be the case does not seem to be the proper basis in determining the right or moral course of action.
When all of the facts are known, it becomes quickly evident that our position on blood is in error. For some of us, a measure of bloodguilt may have been incurred in the discharging of our responsibilities as elders and H.L.C. members. If this is the case, we can hope that Jehovah will be willing to forgive our acts of ignorance. We urge you to get the facts, and prayerfully consider what course of action is appropriate. Thank you for your kind attention.
Your fellow servants,
Jehovah’s Witness Elders & H.L.C. Members
P.S. Some of the questions the Society will not answer:
Why is it that plasma is forbidden when all of its separate components, with the exception of water, are on the approved list for Witnesses to take in order to “sustain life?”
If a blood transfusion is essentially an organ transplant, how can it be viewed as “eating blood,” since no digestion or nutritional benefit accrues? Can it be an organ transplant and a meal at the same time?
If storing your own blood for an autologous transfusion is wrong, than why does the society permit the use of various blood components that must be donated and stored before being used by Jehovah’s Witnesses?
How does the society go about deciding which blood components are major and which are minor? For example, why are white blood cells forbidden, but albumin allowed, since albumin constitutes a larger percentage of blood volume, and milk and organ transplants are full of white blood cells?
If we must abstain from blood completely, as the society says, then please explain why the society tells us that we may accept all derivatives or components of human blood? Is this not contradictory?
Why can Witnesses accept and benefit from the blood that others donate, but not donate blood themselves? Is this not selfish and hypocritical? Would not giving blood to help save others lives be the loving and Christian thing to do?
The Associated Jehovah’s Witnesses for Reform on Blood, is a diverse group of Witnesses from many countries, including elders and other organization officials, Hospital Liaison Committee members, Doctors, Lawyers, Child Advocates and members of the general public who have volunteered their time and energies in an effort to reform a tragic and misguided policy that has claimed thousands of lives, many of them children.