Kidney Operation Without Blood Transfusion
◆ In Australia a witness of Jehovah, a young man of twenty-six years of age, was found to have tuberculosis of the left kidney. Medicines failed to improve that kidney’s condition. Doctors decided that an operation would be needed to remove the diseased kidney. When the Witness made known his view about not taking blood transfusions, the doctor nonetheless indicated he would be willing to perform the operation. However, the doctor began to visit the Witness nearly every day in an endeavor to persuade him to change his mind and to accept blood. The Witness stood firm, pointing out the divine law, such as Acts 15:29, “Keep yourselves free from . . . blood.”
On his daily visits, the doctor bombarded the Witness with such questions as: “There is a 99-percent chance that you will not need a transfusion, but you could be that 1 percent. Would you still say no?” and, “Have you changed your mind yet?” Finally the doctor said one day: “You are placing a big responsibility on me. I can refuse to operate on you.” When the Witness offered to sign a statement relieving the doctor of all responsibility for the patient’s refusal to take blood, the doctor stormed out of the ward. The day before the operation was scheduled to take place the doctor refused to operate unless the patient would agree to taking a blood transfusion.
The situation was now grim. If the patient was not operated on within a month, the diseased kidney would probably poison the system, resulting in death. What was to be done? Would the Witness continue to put Jehovah’s law foremost? Could a doctor be found who would be willing to operate without blood? Many Witnesses throughout the Sydney area used their telephones, trying to find such a doctor. The overseer of the patient’s congregation obtained a list from the Medical Association of the Urologists in the Sydney area and one by one eliminated them. Days passed by and still no doctor had been found. Then, as hopes appeared to fail, a Witness remembered a specialist who had removed the diseased kidney of another Witness about twelve months previously. He was quickly contacted, and the case was presented to him. He showed interest and asked: “You are sure in your own mind that you don’t want a blood transfusion?” The Witness replied, “Yes,” and the doctor said: “All right, in your case I feel sure that I can do it without blood.”
During the operation the patient’s flow of blood was slowed to the point of just moving by means of a cooling machine, and everything went according to plan. Within two hours the patient was back in his ward and well enough to speak to his wife. Not more than half a cup of blood was lost in the operation.