Jehovah Witness’s Blood Transfusion Dilemma


JehovahWitness’s Blood Transfusion Dilemma

Medicalassistants work with patients from different ethnic and religiousbackgrounds, which may have an effect in the way they are treated. Asa medical assistant, I once had a patient of Jehovah Witness, who hadsuffered a serious accident and needed blood transfusion. However,Jehovah Witnesses do not belief in blood transfusion (Bowman, 1995).Since the patient was a child, the parents were responsible formaking her decisions. When I told the parents that the child neededblood transfusion, they disagreed and claimed that there was no waytheir child would receive blood of another person. They were willingto risk the life of their child at the expense of blood transfusion.As a medical assistant, I was faced up with a dilemma of whether todisregard the beliefs of the parents and save the child, or torespect their belief and risk the life of the child.

Jehovah’sWitnesses do not accept blood transfusions, including transfusions oftheir own blood that may have been stored to be used for medicalprocedure. They believe that accepting blood transfusions is againstthe will of God. God says that they should abstain from blood. Assuch, accepting blood willingly is considered a sin by JehovahWitnesses. If one accepts blood transfusions willingly, he/she is nolonger considered as one of the Jehovah Witnesses. On the other hand,medics are supposed to obey their patient’s autonomy and beliefs(Lo, 2009). Therefore, if a patient refuses blood transfusion, it isthe duty of the medical practitioners to obey and respect thatdecision. In fact, it is unlawful for medical practitioners toperform certain procedures against their patient’s will. As such, Ichose to obey their decision not to perform a blood transfusion onthe child whose parents were Jehovah Witnesses.

Toovercome the obstacle presented by Jehovah Witness’s obstacle,alternate to blood transfusions should be sought. Blood alternatesmimic or fulfill some of the most important functions of biologicalblood. It is aimed at providing an alternate to blood transfusions.According to Maniatis Linden &amp Hardy (2010), the following arealternatives of blood transfusion

  • Volume expanders- This is achieved by increasing the volume of fluids without using blood plasma or the whole blood. The simplest non blood fluid suitable for substituting blood transfusions is saline solution, which is cheap and highly compatible with human blood. Fluids with special properties such as haemaccel, dextral, and lactated Ringer’s solutions can also be used as alternate to blood. All these increase the volume of the fluid but do not increase the number of blood cells.

  • Growth factors- The blood normally makes hematopoietic that cause the bone marrow to produce more blood cells. Medical experts have come up with ways of making these growth factors, which are given to people with low blood cells count. They help in boosting red and white blood cells. The greatest disadvantage of this method is that it takes some time before it can raise the level of blood thus, not useful for people who require blood urgently.

  • Blood substitutes- Although there is no real substitute for blood, carrying oxygen to the tissues can replace a few functions of the blood.

  • Iron- Patients that require blood may be given iron tablets or given directly into the veins through drip.

Medicalpractitioners should observe the beliefs of their patients to providequality health care services. As such, when one is confronted in asituation that medical procedures conflict with patient’s beliefs,they should respect them and seek alternative treatments (Lo, 2009).In the case of blood transfusion and Jehovah Witnesses, medicalpractitioners need to find alternatives to blood transfusions toprovide care for patients while at the same time respecting theirbeliefs.


Bowman,R. M. (1995). Jehovah`sWitnesses.Grand Rapids, Mich: Zondervan.

Lo,B. (2009). Resolvingethical dilemmas: A guide for clinicians.Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer Health/Lippincott Williams &ampWilkins.

Maniatis,A., Linden, P. ., &amp Hardy, J.-F. (2010). Alternativesto blood transfusion in transfusion medicine.Chichester, West Sussex: John Wiley.