For decades, Jehovah’s Witnesses have been criticized because of their refusal to accept blood transfusions. That refusal, based on the Biblical directive to ‘abstain from blood,’ has at times clashed with what doctors thought to be in the best medical interests of their patients.
Increasingly, however, experienced voices within the medical community have been pointing to medical reasons for using clinical strategies that avoid blood transfusion.
The Spring 2013 issue of the journal Stanford Medicine Magazine, a publication of the Stanford University School of Medicine, contained a special report on blood, part of which was entitled “Against the Flow
The author quotes Patricia Ford, M.D., founder and director of The Center for Bloodless Medicine and Surgery at Pennsylvania Hospital. Dr. Ford said: “There’s this idea ingrained in the culture of medicine that people will die if they don’t have a certain level of blood, that blood is the ultimate lifesaver . . . That’s true in some specific situations, * but for most patients in most situations it’s just not true.”
Dr. Ford, who treats about 700 of Jehovah’s Witnesses each year, also said: “Many physicians I talked to . . . had this misperception that a lot of patients just can’t survive without receiving blood . . . I may have even thought that myself to some degree. But what I rapidly learned was you can care for these patients by just applying some easy strategies.”
In August 2012, the journal Archives of Internal Medicine published the results of a study of heart-surgery patients at one center during a period of 28 years. Jehovah’s Witnesses fared better than similarly-matched patients who received blood transfusions. The Witnesses had fewer in-hospital complications, better early survival rates, and similar 20-year survival rates when compared with patients who received transfusions.
An article in The Wall Street Journal published on April 8, 2013, stated: “Bloodless surgery
Not surprisingly, Robert Lorenz, medical director of blood management for the Cleveland Clinic, states: “You get an immediate feeling that you’re helping the patient if you transfuse them . . . But, the long-term data suggest it’s the opposite.”
^ par. 5 To learn Jehovah’s Witnesses’ view of blood, see the article “Frequently Asked Questions