Blood Transfusions Reconsidered
IN THIS gloomy age of AIDS, the greatest threat to a hospital patient’s health may lurk in the operating room. “There is no way we can make the blood supply completely sterile,” says Dr. Richard Spence, who for more than a decade has directed the Center for Bloodless Surgery at Cooper Hospital-University Medical Center in Camden, New Jersey, U.S.A.
Not surprisingly, the center treats many of Jehovah’s Witnesses, whose Bible-based refusal of blood transfusions is well-known. (Leviticus 17:11; Acts 15:28, 29) However, a number of non-Witness patients are showing up at the center as well, concerned about the potential dangers of transfusing blood, which include the contracting of hepatitis, AIDS, and other diseases. “The rise of AIDS has shown the need for screening blood,” notes the Courier-Post Weekly Report on Science and Medicine. “But some cases can still slip through the screening process because someone could have the virus before it would show up on a test.”
Because of such dangers, the Center for Bloodless Surgery utilizes alternatives to blood transfusions, including the reinfusion of a patient’s own blood—a technique that some Witnesses may find unobjectionable under certain circumstances.* Another treatment involves the use of drugs that stimulate the patient’s blood production. Additionally, a synthetic blood substitute is occasionally employed to bolster the delivery of oxygen without the need for transfused blood. “Jehovah’s Witnesses want the best medical care,” says Dr. Spence, “but they want alternatives to transfusions.”
Jehovah’s Witnesses are thankful for the cooperation and assistance they have received from doctors who respect their religious convictions. As a result, they have indeed received “the best medical care” and have maintained a clean conscience before Jehovah God.—2 Timothy 1:3.
A detailed discussion of this process and the factors involved in making a personal, conscientious decision is set out in The Watchtower of March 1, 1989, pages 30-1.