Thirteen-Year-Old Berlin Girl Keeps Integrity
THIRTEEN-YEAR-OLD Renate Grosse repeatedly complained about being very tired. The family physician, however, dismissed her complaint with the observation to her mother, “Young girls like to pretend. Don’t worry about it.” But when Renate fainted at school and had to be brought home she was taken to the hospital, where her case was diagnosed as rheumatism of the joints. However, when treatment for rheumatism of the joints failed to help, a blood specialist was called in who declared her case to be leukemia, a cancer of the blood cells, for which no cure has as yet been found, and for which doctors recommend regular transfusions.
Renate’s mother, being one of Jehovah’s witnesses, objected to blood transfusions, at which the blood specialist exploded. He simply could not understand how a mother who claimed to love her child could reject the only means of cure, and so the position of Jehovah’s witnesses on blood transfusions was explained to him in the presence of both the hospital’s head and the ward physicians. A doctor, one of Jehovah’s witnesses, made a check on the case and stated that her case had gone so far that Renate had only six weeks to live.
Hearing of the stand taken, relatives, nurses and other ward patients bombarded both mother and Renate with arguments, but in vain. The ward physician, a Roman Catholic, insisted on overriding the mother’s objections by appealing to Renate repeatedly. One evening at 9:30 he seated himself on her bed and painted a dreadful picture of how soon she would die and in what manner, but all in vain. After he left, Renate wrote a letter expressing her convictions so that all should know that it was her decision also, not just her mother’s.
Visited a few weeks later, she was happy, although her condition was getting visibly worse. She wanted to hear about the new things in the Watchtower and Awake! magazines, and talked little about her illness. In fact, she joked about the physician’s offer to transfuse his own blood, and she remarked: “Mom, if I should get well again, then we want to do many things differently and serve Jehovah more, but if not—then there’s this letter in my pocket, you know.”
In discussing Renate’s case with one of Jehovah’s witnesses the head physician exclaimed, “Do you believe that a girl of thirteen years can have religious convictions deep enough to refuse treatment from a physician when in danger of death?” He was assured that Renate’s own conduct answered his question, for, after learning she was to die, she was even happier and friendlier than she was before. When the matter of trying to coerce Renate was brought to his attention he was surprised to hear of it, and thereafter Renate was no longer pressured to take blood transfusions although the other ward patients showed hostility until she was taken to a private room. The head physician further observed, “In my whole practice I have never seen such a case, where a child was so happy after learning that it had to die.”
Renate died. At her funeral the letter she had written that night after the ward physician had tried to coerce her was read aloud:
“To all relations and people I know: Dear ones, I ask you kindly but very earnestly not to make even a little bit of trouble for my mother because she refused the blood transfusion that I was supposed to get from the doctor. It is just as much my firm will to be true and obedient to God’s Word rather than to be a lawbreaker and live artificially by having a blood transfusion every half year. The words are true: ‘Whoever loves his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life in faithfulness to me will receive it again.’
“But my big hope is not to float around in heaven somewhere as a spirit. No, but I am resting in the grave till after Armageddon, and if the great Life-giver Jehovah considers me worthy he will give me a resurrection—in honest-to-goodness flesh and blood as a human on a cleansed paradise earth in delight and happiness. So you see that is why it wasn’t hard for me to die. Can you understand that?
“I’m young, it’s true, but I have laid my life in the Creator’s hands, and he guides everything in the right way. So in closing I ask you earnestly once again not to lay any stones in Mom’s way. Spare her all unnecessary excitement. Instead, be kind and friendly to her, and do not in any case speak evil words. Hearty greetings and kisses to you all from your loving Renate. Please take this to heart.”