The Plasma Paradox

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?

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?

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.

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:

Factor VIII Concentrate
Factor IX Concentrate
Anti-Inhibitor Coagulation Complex (AICC)
Immune Globulins, including Rh Immune Globulin
Anti-Thrombin III Concentrate
Alpha 1-Proteinase Inhibitor Concentrate

Let us consider some of these individually:

Albumin: Blood contains about 2.2 % albumin by volume. Leukocytes – which are prohibited – comprise about 1% of blood volume, many Witnesses and physicians alike are puzzled as to why some larger blood components are permitted and some smaller ones are forbidden. The red blood cell stimulant EPO is an albumin based blood product.1 (Note: This Watchtower illustration is another example of the erroneous information the WTS publishes on blood. The correct percentage of white cells in the blood is 1.0% not 0.1%).

Albumin is often used to treat burns. A typical treatment for third degree burns (30-50 %) requires 600 grams of albumin. Producing this amount requires about 45 liters of whole blood. How can anyone call this “a small fraction” or say the Watchtower does not condone the storage of blood? Clearly these 45 liters of blood needed for one Jehovah’s Witness burn patient have not been ‘poured out’ on the ground as the Bible discusses.

The WTS quietly reversed its position on albumin in 1981 leading many to wonder whether the previous ban on its use was from God or from men and younger Jehovah’s Witnesses likely have no memory or perhaps even knowledge that its uses was forbidden prior to this time but these are the historical facts.

“While this physician argues for the use of certain blood fractions, particularly albumin, such also come under the Scriptural ban. . – Awake! 09/08/1956 p. 20

Cryoprecipitated AHF: The portion of Plasma that is rich in certain clotting factors, including Factor VIII, fibrinogen, von Willebrand factor and Factor XIII. Cryoprecipitated AHF is removed from Plasma by freezing and then slowly thawing the Plasma. It is used to prevent or control bleeding in individuals with hemophilia and von Willebrand’s disease, which are common, inherited major coagulation abnormalities. Its use in these conditions is reserved for times when viral-inactivated concentrates containing Factor VIII and von Willebrand factor are unavailable and Plasma components must be used.

Immunoglobulins:Travelers are often injected with cholera vaccine and Jehovah’s Witnesses accept this. A single injection requires 3 liters of whole blood. This blood, again, is stored.

Hepatitis B Immune Globulin (HBIG): Used to treat and prevent Hepatitis B

Tetanus Immune Globulin: (Tetanus Shot)

Rabies Immune Globulin(RIG): Used to treat and prevent rabies.

RhO Immune Globulin (RhoGam): Given to Rh negative mothers to prevent Hemolytic Disease of the newborn in future pregnancies.

Antithrombin III: Used to treat Antithrombin III deficiency.

Human Immune Globulin (HIG): Used to treat and prevent, among other things, Hepatitis A

Hemophiliac preparations (Factor VIII and IX): Effective treatment requires a preparation called factor VIII, which assists in clotting and is made of the pooled blood of many individuals. The WTS has frequently argued that these are small blood fractions. In truth, however, it takes about 9000 kilograms of whole blood to make one 0.1 gram dose of Factor VIII. A person suffering from severe hemophilia typically requires several doses a year.

The Watchtower Society is not ignorant of this:

“Each batch of Factor VIII is made from plasma that is pooled from as many as 2,500 blood donors.” (The Watchtower, June 15, 1985, p. 30)

“Dr. Margaret Hilgartner of the New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center said: “A severe hemophiliac is exposed to the blood of 800,000 to 1 million different people every year.”” (Awake! Oct. 8, 1988, p. 11)

More than 250,000 blood donations are required annually to produce the factor VIII, and factor IX that is consumed by the Jehovah’s Witness community. Huge vats could be filled with all of the human blood that is stored and processed to meet the needs of Jehovah’s Witness Hemophiliacs.

The Watchtower glosses over these facts when explaining why it allows use of these “small fractions,” but cynically emphasizes them when it uses AIDS as propaganda against blood transfusions. Then, of course, it boasts how the blood prohibition protects Jehovah’s Witnesses from AIDS. But as we see here, Factor VIII is permitted, so the blood prohibition gives no protection to hemophiliacs.

It is baffling that the Watchtower society will allow all of the above components to be transfused or injected into a Witnesses patient separately, but if you were to take all of them at once and add water the resultant mix (plasma or FFP) is forbidden. It has been said that this is the equivalent of a doctor telling a patient that he may not eat ham and swiss on rye sandwiches. However, he may take the sandwich apart and eat the separate components of the sandwich. Another analogy worth considering is likening blood or plasma to a stolen car yet permitting this same stolen car to be dismantled and lawfully sold as spare parts. The Watchtower is caught in a maze of legalism and nit-picking. We have seen above that the WTS’ prohibition against storing blood is hopelessly inconsistent.


1-Human blood is composed of 55% plasma and 45% formed elements (From chart) 1994 Elaine N Marieb R.N. Ph.D. Essentials of Human Anatomy and Physiology – 4th edition p. 291

“Plasma, which is approximately 90% water, is the liquid part of blood.” Ibid p. 290

“Solutes make up about 10% of the plasma volume of which 7% are proteins.” 1990 Ennio C Rossi, Toby L. Simon, Gerald S. Moss – Principles of Transfusion Medicine p. 307

“The Concentration of Albumin is about 40mg/ml, an amount that represents about 60% of the total plasma protein.” Ibid p. 308

Comment: Since 55% of the total blood volume is plasma and 7% of that plasma is protein and 60% of that protein is albumin, then figuring the percentage that albumin comprises of the total blood volume is accomplished by the following computation: .6 X 7 X .55 equals 2.31 percent.

See the following WTS references for a historical verification of changes in policy:

Albumin: Awake! 09/08/1956 p. 20; WT 11/1/61 P. 669; Awake 6/22/82 P. 25; and WT 10/1/94 P.31; WT 6/1/90 P. 31

Vaccines/Serums: Golden Age, 5/1/29, p. 502, #40; WT 12/15/52 P. 764; Awake! 01/08/1954 p. 24; WT 9/15/1958 p. 575; WT 6/1/74 P. 351-352

Illustration from Awake! 10/22/90, p. 4

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