How Do I View Blood Fractions and Medical Procedures Involving My Own Blood?
The Bible commands Christians to “abstain from . . . blood.” (Acts 15:20) Thus, Jehovah’s Witnesses do not accept transfusions of whole blood or the four primary components of blood—namely, red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets, and plasma. They also do not donate or store their own blood for transfusion.—Lev. 17:13, 14; Acts 15:28, 29.
What are blood fractions, and why is their use a matter for each Christian to decide?
Blood fractions are elements from blood that are extracted through a process called fractionation. For example, plasma, one of the four major components of blood, can be divided into the following substances: water, about 91 percent; proteins, such as albumins, globulins, and fibrinogen, about 7 percent; and other substances, such as nutrients, hormones, gases, vitamins, waste products, and electrolytes, about 1.5 percent.
Are fractions also covered by the command to abstain from blood? We cannot say. The Bible does not give specific direction on the subject of fractions.* Of course, many fractions are derived from blood that has been donated for medical purposes. Each Christian should make a conscientious decision as to whether he or she will accept or will reject the medical use of these substances.
When making such decisions, consider the following questions: Am I aware that refusing all blood fractions means that I will not accept some medications, such as certain ones that fight viruses and diseases or that help blood to clot in order to stop bleeding? Could I explain to a physician why I reject or accept the use of certain blood fractions?
Why are some procedures involving the medical use of my own blood a personal decision?
Although Christians do not donate or store their own blood for transfusion purposes, some procedures or tests involving an individual’s blood are not so clearly in conflict with Bible principles. Therefore, each individual should make a conscientious decision as to whether to accept or to reject some types of medical procedures involving the use of his or her own blood.
When making such decisions, ask yourself the following questions: If some of my blood will be diverted outside my body and the flow might even be interrupted for a time, will my conscience allow me to view this blood as still part of me, thus not requiring that it be ‘poured out on the ground’? (Deut. 12:23, 24) Would my Bible-trained conscience be troubled if during a medical procedure some of my own blood was withdrawn, modified, and directed back into my body? Am I aware that refusing all medical procedures involving the use of my own blood means that I refuse treatments such as dialysis or the use of a heart-lung machine? Have I prayerfully considered this matter before making a decision?*
What are my personal decisions?
Consider the two work sheets on the following pages. Work Sheet 1 lists some of the fractions extracted from blood and how they are commonly used in medicine. Fill in your personal choice as to whether you will accept or will reject the use of each of these fractions. Work Sheet 2 lists some common medical procedures involving your own blood. Fill in your personal choice as to whether you will accept or will reject these procedures. These work sheets are not legal documents, but you may use your answers on these work sheets to help you to complete your DPA (durable power of attorney) card.
Your decisions should be your own and should not be based on someone else’s conscience. Likewise, no one should criticize another Christian’s decisions. In these matters, “each one will carry his own load” of responsibility.—Gal. 6:4, 5.
Note: The methods of applying each of these medical procedures vary from physician to physician. You should have your physician explain exactly what is involved in any proposed procedure to ensure that it is in harmony with Bible principles and with your own conscientious decisions.