“FURTHER ON BLOOD TRANSFUSION”
February 3, 1950
Yours of December 16 has not had previous attention for press of business here.
Your frank statement concerning blood transfusion is appreciated, and for it we are not taking any spiritual action against you or against anyone else, but must let the great Lawgiver be your Judge, as He is ours. Our published statements concerning this matter are something owing to those who look to us for spiritual guidance, and are not issued to cause division among Jehovah’s people. Repeatedly we are confronted with requests for information on blood transfusion, particularly for us to pronounce a sanction of this medical practice. This is so general that for the information of all, that they may know our position, we were obliged to make a statement upon the matter. Our statements have not caused any more division of opinion upon the subject than existed before we said anything about it. It is only that we have made ourselves clear upon the matter, so that others in doubt as to our position will not be pleading with us to sanction their resort to this disputed medical practice. If anyone thinks there is merit to our position and that it has Scriptural support and chooses to be guided by it, all right; but if contrariwise, then that is such one’s responsibility before God. He cannot claim taking a certain course because of ignorance of what we Scripturally believe upon the subject.
At 1 Corinthians 9:9, 10 Paul says: “Is it about the oxen that God is concerned? Is he not clearly speaking in our interests? Of course this law [of Moses] was written in our interests.” (An American Translation) And so we ask you, If God considered the blood of lower animals so sacred that he forbade the transferring of their blood from their bodies into the human system, does he consider the blood of the higher creature man less sacred so that it can be transferred from one system to another with impunity? God confined the proper use of the blood of animal sacrifices to the altar for the purpose of atonement or propitiation of sins, to typify that Jesus’ blood would likewise be confined to the spiritual altar for the purging of mankind’s sins; and all the Christian Greek Scriptures bear this fact out. So in this important regard you are absolutely wrong when you say that “God or Christ Jesus NEVER issued any commandment against HUMAN blood except the shedding of it in MURDER”. You say truly that Christ said his disciples must eat his flesh and drink his blood, but you also raise the question: “Since Jesus gave his blood for us, so that we might have life—eternal life, would it not be fitting, that we, his imitators, give our blood to a sick brother when he is nigh to death, so that he might recover and further serve his Lord?” So we ask you, Did Jesus give his blood by the medical practice of transfusion? Is it by medical blood transfusion that his disciples “drink his blood”? Or is it not by faith in his blood which was applied, like blood of Israelite animal sacrifices, to God’s altar? And if Jesus is God’s High Priest typified by Israel’s high priest Aaron, did he not confine the blood of his human sacrifice to the use that God’s law marked out for it, namely, to God’s holy altar? (Leviticus 17:11) So, how can anyone argue that Jesus’ shedding of his blood in sacrifice authorizes his followers to be blood donors for transfusion purposes?
You say God’s laws concerning the disposal of animal blood have no bearing upon the matter of blood transfusion. We say that God’s laws in this matter are significant and typical and that they do have a strong bearing upon the matter. Whose position is safer, yours or ours? Whose position is more Scriptural and showing careful regard for the laws of God?
Your admission is very interesting: “Even if the blood given is not compatible with your OWN type, it will kill you.” If blood transfusion is approved of God and is Christlike, why should this be so? Of what type was Christ’s blood? And does his blood benefit only people with a certain kind of blood? Or does it benefit all? You refer to the scripture that God “hath made of one blood all nations of men” (Acts 17:26). Why, then, should medical doctors have to exercise such care about the types and other features of the blood of certain individuals? If God, the great Physician, approves of blood transfusion as practiced between human and human (not lower animal and human), why should not blood transfusion be outright beneficial and applicable without all the precautions? And think of all the harm that blood transfusions did before the doctors discovered the harmful features about this practice that must be guarded against! Do you think God justified all the harm that was thus done during the experimental stage and that is still being done despite greatest care, on the assumption that the doctors are working toward the perfecting of the practice for the greater health benefit of all mankind?
You send us a clipping from the Evening Bulletin, Philadelphia, Friday, December 16, 1949, announcing “Rare Operation Saves Girl, 14” and telling of how this girl “had been built up by 17 blood transfusions” and telling of her discharge from the hospital. We can counter with a clipping from The American Weekly, January 29, 1950, under the heading “Safeguarding the BLOOD BANKS”. It tells how a young girl Mary, injured and shocked from an automobile accident, was given a blood transfusion and appeared to be normal after two weeks; BUT “a month later, however, Mary developed a fever. Her eyes and skin took on a yellowish cast. Doctors diagnosed jaundice and traced its cause to a serious liver disease, known to the medical profession as virus hepatitis. This disorder is caused by an infectious virus. As yet there is no specific remedy to destroy the virus, . . . At first the source of Mary’s infection was a mystery. Then a check-up disclosed that her transfusion had been from a donor whose blood contained the virus that causes hepatitis. Mary’s recovery, from the disease her donor’s blood gave her, took much longer than her recovery from the automobile accident.”
The foregoing, please, is not any sectarian opinion of ours, setting down any “iron-clad rules of conduct governing human beings” “the distinguishing signposts of apostate religion”, but is the statement of the writer of the newspaper or magazine article. It may be true, as you say, that one Roman Catholic pope banned blood transfusion; and yet another pope, claimed to be just as infallible as the other, tried blood transfusion causing the death of the donors, and today Roman Catholics likewise resort to the same medical practice. We do not know why Catholics reject the ban of an infallible pope, but our position against transfusion is not dictated by the ban of that pope; our appeal is to the Holy Scriptures.
Your bringing in the matter of smoking into this discussion is beside the point. But it seems to us that in arguing for us to show indifference toward smoking you are inconsistent when you appeal to all the good that the medical profession claim for the blood transfusion, whereas you seem to ignore all that science and valid medical investigation have to say against smoking as injurious to the human system. Why not adhere to all that medical practice claims and harmonize therewith?
We shall let the foregoing paragraphs suffice as an answer to your seven pages, hoping that they make our stand still clearer to you. Whether you accept or reject does not hurt or hinder us. You are the one that must take the consequences of the course that you pursue. We must bear our responsibility before God as those trying to expound his sacred Word and commandments.
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