“An Important Contribution to Medical Science”

BY AWAKE! WRITER IN MEXICO

Jehovah’s Witnesses are known worldwide for choosing nonblood management of their medical conditions. Some people criticize this Bible-based stand. Yet, as recorded in the widely circulated newspaper Reforma, of Mexico City, Dr. Ángel Herrera, surgeon in chief at the National Institute of Oncology, said: “The Witnesses are not fools. Neither are they fanatics. . . . [They] have made an important contribution to medical science by making the medical profession consider the need to save blood.”

Fifteen years ago, Dr. Herrera organized a team of anesthesiologists and surgeons to perform operations without using blood. Dr. Isidro Martínez, an anesthesiologist on that team, commented: “A correct anesthetic procedure allows for applying all the procedures for saving blood. So we can indeed help Jehovah’s Witnesses, respecting their religious stand.”

There are more than 30 alternatives to blood transfusion, reported Reforma in October 2006. They include cauterizing blood vessels, covering organs with a special gauze that releases chemicals that inhibit bleeding, and using blood-volume expanders. *

Dr. Moisés Calderón, chief heart surgeon at La Raza General Hospital in Mexico City, routinely performs surgery without administering blood. He stated in Reforma: “A transfusion is not a harmless procedure. There is the risk of transmitting viruses, bacteria, or parasites. Also, allergic reactions can develop that alter renal and pulmonary function.” In view of those risks, Dr. Calderón said: “We operate on all patients as if they were Jehovah’s Witnesses. We try to have as little bleeding as possible, recover the blood that is lost, and use medicines that help the patient to bleed less.”

The newspaper quoted Acts 15:28, 29, a key scripture on which Jehovah’s Witnesses base their stand. In this scripture the apostles issued the following edict: “The holy spirit and we ourselves have favored adding no further burden to you, except these necessary things, to keep abstaining from things sacrificed to idols and from blood and from things strangled and from fornication.”

The Hospital Information Desk at the branch office of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Mexico reports that there are 75 Hospital Liaison Committees in that country with 950 volunteers who visit doctors to provide information on alternatives to blood. Some 2,000 doctors in Mexico are willing to treat Jehovah’s Witnesses without using blood. The Witnesses greatly appreciate the cooperation of these doctors, who have also thus become better equipped to help non-Witness patients.

[Footnote]

^ par. 5 Awake! does not endorse any particular form of nonblood management, recognizing that this is a matter for personal decision.

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Dr. Ángel Herrera

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Dr. Isidro Martínez

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Dr. Moisés Calderón