“ADDITIONAL ON BLOOD TRANSFUSION”
February 13, 1950
Answering your letter of January 24:
Of course, God’s prohibition against drinking the blood by Noah and his descendants applied only to the lower animals, because God authorized man to kill and eat the flesh of such animals. He did not authorize man to kill human creatures and to eat their flesh like cannibals, and therefore he did not have to state a law against drinking human blood or against having a blood transfusion from one human organism into another organism. (Genesis 9:1-6) If transfusion of human blood in the modern waya was not practiced back there in Noah’s day or in Moses’ day, there was no need for God to expressly state a law against it; just the same as he included no law against smoking tobacco in his commandments to his typical people. But that is not saying or proving that the fundamental essence of his law is not against such things.
When God commanded Abraham to circumcise himself and all the males of his household, there was of course some shedding of human blood by that operation. (Genesis 17:9-14, 23-27) But such shedding of a measure of human blood was not a transfusion of such blood into another organism.
You say that “at a blood transfusion the person receiving the blood is in great need of it; the transfusion is not undertaken because he is greedy for it”. How can you say this? For when a doctor tells a patient that he must have a blood transfusion or else he cannot get well and live, what does the doctor create in the patient but a greed for the blood of another human creature?
It is not altogether true that “at a blood transfusion, the blood donor does not venture his life”. Just recently a World War II veteran was hailed as a hero because for three hours he lay alongside a young girl afflicted with a fatal blood disease, while his blood was made to course through her blood vessels and her blood vessels discharged her diseased blood into his blood vessels. Despite this blood transfusion the girl died. But why was the man hailed as a hero? His blood was pumped into her body because he had recovered from an unusual disease and his blood had come to be of the very type the doctors claimed the diseased girl needed. But while they claim that his blood might have altered her blood to overcome her disease, yet the veteran exposed himself to contracting her disease by having her blood pulsate through his body. Because he thus ventured his life, he was acclaimed as a hero. True, the man volunteered in response to a call by the medical doctors over the radio, but by what God-given law have the doctors the right to expose a strong, full-grown man to death in order to save the life of a young girl? What if the blood donor had died by contracting her disease? Who would have been held responsible for the man’s death?
Through the news agencies you mainly hear about the supposed value and benefits of blood transfusion; but less frequently you hear about all the damage that it is doing on a world-wide scale. For instance, The American Weekly of January 29, 1950, on page 10, had this to say about the other side of the matter: “Safeguarding the BLOOD BANKS:
“What many sincere donors don’t know, however, is the fact that blood that is not free from germs may cost the life it was meant to save. . . . Various types of viruses, including those of influenza and infantile paralysis, might be present in blood or plasma intended for transfusion, unless the greatest vigilance is exercised. Similarly, such blood or plasma might carry germs causing malaria and other diseases. Or, it might contain allergy-producing protein substances, called ‘allergens’. Such substances might cause hives, asthma or hay fever in the patient who received the transfusion. Mrs. Gilda Burlin, of Cincinnati, Ohio, was so sure that she contracted malaria as the result of a blood transfusion that she sued the University of Cincinnati Transfusion Service, at the General Hospital, for $50,000. She charged that she was a patient at the Jewish Hospital in 1947 and received two units of blood supplied from the bank of the Transfusion Service. . . . Scientifically, however, the transmission of malaria in the process of transfusion is possible. It also is possible that various diseases might develop because the apparatus used in the transfusion was contaminated. This, however, is closely guarded against in all first-class hospitals; but accidents might happen. . . . The virus of hepatitis, or other viruses, cannot be observed under the microscope. This makes such infection a greater hazard than that from bacterial organisms which are more easily detected. . . . In addition to testing for the presence of agents that may cause disease, the blood bank must check all donated blood for its type. . . . Another important division concerns the Rh factor. . . . If an Rh-negative person receives an Rh-positive transfusion, especially more than once, the results may be most serious.”
So do not be swayed by the emphasis placed upon the “life-giving” qualities of the human blood, but think also upon the disease-spreading qualities of the blood. In the face of all such risks, and in view of all the harm that is being effected, do you not think that God’s everlasting covenant concerning the sanctity of blood also prohibits human blood transfusions? If God forbade close relatives like brothers and sisters, parent to child, etc., to marry because of thereby bequeathing emphasized human idiosyncrasies to their offspring and causing diseases, do you think that God would disapprove any less of blood transfusion with all its disease-spreading and fatal properties and possibilities?—Leviticus 18:6-18; 20:11-21.
It is freely acknowledged that the fluid from a person of one type of blood may kill a person of another type of blood. If, now, you donated your blood, and your type of blood killed the person receiving the transfusion, would you be guilty of murder? Or would the doctor or nurse that administered the transfusion be guilty of the murder? Would you not be at least an accessory to a murder? Oh, you might say, it was all accidental, all unintended! But remember that in the typical nation of Israel God held the person responsible for even an accidental killing of a man or woman, so that the unwitting slayer had to flee to a city of refuge and stay there in order to escape the avenger of the blood of the dead person. (Numbers 35:9-34) Christians are taught to be even more careful of human life than were those natural Jews.
For other arguments against blood transfusion see the letters that are being published in The Watchtower in addition to the ones you have already read.
Faithfully yours in the cause of righteousness,
WATCH TOWER BIBLE & TRACT SOCIETY
a P.S. Pharaoh of ancient Egypt is reported as having had 150 Israelites killed daily and their blood drained in order to provide a blood-bath for the cure of his terrible disease.
In that day will Jehovah of hosts become a crown of glory, and a diadem of beauty, unto the residue of his people; and a spirit of justice to him that sitteth in judgment, and strength to them that turn back the battle at the gate.—Isaiah 28:5, 6, A.S.V.