So, Jehovah's Witnesses actually DO take blood, as their leaders permit.
Arbitrary distinctions are drawn by two-thirds vote of their Brooklyn leadership.
THE LEADERSHIP of the Watchtower Society has ruled
that Jehovah's Witnesses may take certain components of blood, such as
hemophiliac preparations (Factor VIII and Factor IX), immune globulins, and
albumin, but that Jehovah's Witnesses must refuse other components such
as white blood cells, plasma, red blood cells, and platelets--according to the
June 22, 1982 Awake! magazine (pages 25-27). This is important because
doctors nowadays administer such components more often than whole blood.
According to the rulings made at the organization's Brooklyn, New York, headquarters,
JWs may even take whole blood that has merely circulated outside their body in a heart-
lung machine, but may not store their own blood in advance of an operation. These rulings
were decided arbitrarily by the sect's leadership. A two-thirds vote on the JW Governing
Body is required to create new doctrine.
Former Governing Body member Raymond Franz reveals that for some years
hemophiliacs writing or phoning headquarters were told that they would be allowed to
take a clotting factor derived from other people's blood just once as "medication," but that
taking it more than once would be considered "feeding" on blood. Then the Governing Body
voted differently in its meeting of June 11, 1975, deciding to allow hemophiliacs to take
the blood fraction repeatedly. This was communicated to some of the earlier
inquirers--those whose addresses were on record. But it was not communicated to many
others, and the new policy was not published until 1978, when it was mentioned briefly in
the June 15th Watchtower in the midst of a discussion of serum injections. (pages 30-31)
It is not known how many JW hemophiliacs may have died in the meantime, assuming
the old instructions were still in force. For more detail, see the second edition of Crisis of
Conscience by Raymond Franz, pages 106-107 and 358-359.
As matters stand today, a JW hemophiliac in danger of bleeding to death may take
repeatedly the blood components he needs, but a JW accident victim in danger of bleeding to death must refuse the different blood components needed to survive in his case.
Adapted from Comments from the Friends © 1993 by David A. Reed, Editor*Box 819, Assonet, MA 02702*Vol. XIII, No 1, Winter 1994 ISSN 1063-7575
published by Prometheus Books