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Blood Transfusions: Good or Bad?

  1. Aug 20, 2004 #1
    Note: Although this article is published by Jehovah's Witnesses, it is not religious. It is written in a persausive manner against transfusion but contains purely scientific reasoning. I highly suggest you read it before posting.

    Also you need to hit the "next page" arrow to see the article I'm talking about. :wink:


    Even after I converted, I still really didn't agree with JW's stance on blood transfusions until about a year ago. I always thought it was of the noblest things you could do to give blood. I guess all the pro-transfusion commerials, posts and programs at school kept me from really researching it for myself.

    Tell me what you think.
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2004
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  3. Aug 20, 2004 #2
    Here in BC, a medical case recently made headlines: a Jehova's witness undertook surgery while refusing transfusions and died of the resulting complications associated with loss of blood. On the other hand, you have a site clearly intended to push a point of view that selects only the evidence that agrees with its viewpoint. Make your choice.
  4. Aug 20, 2004 #3


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    Well, let's see, you can choose certain death from blood loss now, or you can take a small chance of contracting a disease or having an adverse reaction from the blood transfusion that causes death later. I'd take my chances on the transfusion.
  5. Aug 20, 2004 #4


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    I suppose the millions of lives saved each year are worth nothing compared to the very small percentage of people who have minor (not-necessarily-fatal) reactions.

    I'd also like to point out that in the entire article, there isn't a single citation any younger than 15 years old (that's before AIDS made transfusions MUCH safer, folks...). Many of them are over 30 years old.

    I myself wouldn't have lived past 24 hours old if my parents were Jehovah's Witnesses. Praise whatever may happen to be out there that they aren't.
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2004
  6. Aug 21, 2004 #5
    Blood transplants aren't usually nesessary. The point is that there are usually bloodless alternatives that you're doctor doesn't care to learn.

    Hundreds of thousand of people die each year from blood transplants and millions of people have adverse reactions. What you guys don't realize is that most operations that require blood transplants aren't life threatening.

    Umm... Yeah actually there are, look again.

    Did you mean to say the opposite or are you being sarcastic?

    I'd probably be dead to if I didn't get one when I was young. I'm still upset I was forced to have one.

    Okay. I guess this is my fault for not stating this in my first post, sorry. What I ment to argue was against "commonplace" blood use, were you just accept a transplant when you don't really need it to live or just ignoring alternatives for whatever reasons. Whether or not you want to use blood in a life or death situation I guess is a matter of religious belief.
  7. Aug 21, 2004 #6

    Ivan Seeking

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  8. Aug 22, 2004 #7
    The same argument can be made for antibiotics. They aren't *really* necessary unless your condition is life threatening, but would you have a sore throat for a month when you can have it go away in a few days? As with any other medical treatment, blood transfusions are effective only in certain situations, just as antibiotics are not effective against colds. However, with all due respect, neither you nor I are qualified to decide when a transfusion is needed. If my doctor says it is, I'll believe him. Even if it's not absolutely required (matter of life or death), I'd still take it, trusting that it is the best solution, and the alternatives are either simply not there or too displeasing.
    Hundreds of thousands of people? :rofl: :rofl: In the United States, about four million people die every year. This would make blood transfusions a leading cause of death! Please provide a source for those figures. As for adverse reactions, well, one can have an adverse reaction to almost anything, including a McDonald's burger.
    This is at odds with your earlier statement that you adopted the JW stance on transfusions only about a year ago. In that case, you weren't forced back then, or at least you didn't object at the time.
    Of course you have the right to reject this, or any other medical treatment, based on your beliefs. For my part, I see no harm in accepting transfusions as long as the donors are properly screened for compatibility and pathogens. If alternatives existed, I would certainly like to know about them, with a complete list of advantages and disadvantages for each. Until then, I will defer to the opinion of doctors - after all, that's what they're paid for, and I will not claim I can do their job better than they can. And I certainly draw the line at pushing bad science to promote a particular viewpoint, as that site seems to be doing.
  9. Aug 22, 2004 #8


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    On the contrary, almost every page contians religious arguments and the entire point of the site is to use science to support a religious argument. It is highly misleading and wholly unscientific.

    Here in Philly, we have a large number of different churches that base everything in their daily lives on faith. That means no medical treatment of any kind, ever - it even extends to seat belts (they don't wear them). And while its one thing to make a choice that leads to your own death, its another entirely to cause the death of another. A number of these people have been arrested for murder by failing to prevent the deaths of their children. It positively sickens me.
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2004
  10. Aug 22, 2004 #9


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    From your own link it says that 12 - 14 million units were given in what I'm guessing was 1988 or 1989.

    You're trying to get me to believe that a fraction greater than 10% have reactions to it and a fraction between 1% and 10% die from them?

    Either you're making up statistics or you're fudging words.

    Maybe you mean "...die each year despite having blood transplants..."? :rolleyes:



    Well, I'll be:

    Sorry... 14 years. That definitely makes a huge difference!

    Under "How Safe"
    1989, 1960, 1989, 1988, 1989, 1987, 1989, 1986, 1987, 1982, 1989, etc.

    There are a few newspaper citations from 1990.

    Under "Quality Alternatives"
    Nothing younger than 1989.

    Under "You Have the Right"
    A newspaper clipping from 1990, and a reference to a Canadian Supreme court decision in 1990.

    Under "Really Saves Lives"
    Nothing younger than 1986

    So I lied. Nothing younger than 14 years... not 15.

    No on both counts. I meant exactly what I said. Blood is tested for hundreds more pathogens and diseases than it was 15 years ago. It is much safer than it was then. Even still, the risks associated with blood transfusions are minute and have been minute ever since the procedure was perfected in the years prior to world war 2.

    Let me get this straight... you're pissed that your parents didn't let you die?

    You're free to believe whatever the heck you want to believe. You can handle snakes because your book says it's safe when you have faith. You can choose not to eat milk and meat at the same meal because your book says not to. Whatever. To each his own.

    Just don't take a conclusion and then go quote-mining to find statements which support your conclusion while ignoring the other 99% of the work out there which says the exact opposite. That is the exact opposite of the correct way to do science. It is not only intellectually dishonest, but it is also deliberately deceitful, and odds are patently false as well. I could probably go quote-mining through scientific journals and end up "proving" that the Earth is flat. That doesn't make it so.

    If blood and blood transfusions were as dangerous as you and The Watchtower are making it out to be, it wouldn't have gotten past the first successful tests in the late 1800s.
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2004
  11. Aug 22, 2004 #10

    Dude you wrote: "that's before AIDS made transfusions MUCH safer". How did AIDS make transfusions safer? Where you being sarcastic? Because now you're saying its safer now, but in this statement you are implying its not. I know you probably didn't mean to type what you did, thats why I asked.

    Not exactly. But I'm upset that events in my life brought me to either having to have one or risk dying.

    I found out that my link takes you to the index page and not the specific article I wanted people to read. Sorry, again. It seems each article has the same address as the index. The article I thought I linked to was the one titled "Blood Transfusions—How Safe?" On that page I didn't see any religious support or citations so I thought it was approprate for discussion. I apologize if it seemed like I was trying to disguise my religious beliefs as scientific facts. I assure you that wasn't what I was trying to do.
  12. Aug 22, 2004 #11


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    Before the discovery of the AIDS virus, blood was not tested as stringently as it is now. Donated blood is tested much, much more carefully than it was even 10 years ago.

    That means that because bad blood is more effectively weeded out, the blood supply is safer now, even if diseases are more prevalent (and my educated guess is that they aren't as a whole).

    Even if you didn't intend it, the article as a whole is horribly biased. Like Russ and I stated above, if you start with a conclusion and then look for the facts to support that conclusion, you're not doing science. That's exactly what this article has done. It ignores the wonderful medical advances transfusions have made possible and instead focus on (and blow out of proportion) the few drawbacks in an attempt to make their viewpoint "scientifically" valid.
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2004
  13. Aug 23, 2004 #12
    I wonder what the Jehovah's Witnesses' policy is on storing your own blood in case you ever need it for a transfusion.
  14. Aug 23, 2004 #13


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    edit: looks like I was wrong. Re-stated:

    I've been looking for the answer to that and I can't find it. There are sects though who don't receive medical treatment of any kind. And "...of any kind" really does mean what it implies: a band-aid is against the will of God.
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2004
  15. Aug 23, 2004 #14
    Jehovah's Witnesses and Medical Care

    No faith healing
    Because they respect life and value good health, Jehovah's Witnesses accept the vast majority of medical treatments available. (Luke 5:31) Many Witnesses work in the health-care field. Like anyone else, when they are sick, they seek medical care. They do not believe in faith healing. The type of medical treatment selected is a matter of personal choice.

    Authorized Site of the Office of Public Information of Jehovah's Witnesses
    Taken from; http://www.jw-media.org/medical/medical_care.htm
  16. Aug 23, 2004 #15
    You don't mean sects of JWs? There is only one sect of JWs.

    Well I did state that it was written to persaude you against blood transfusions. I thought the good effects of blood transfusions were obvious and didn't need to be mentioned.
  17. Aug 23, 2004 #16


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    Just a small additional note: not only is the blood screened a whole lot more rigourously, using tests that weren't even dreams 15 years ago, but blood *donors* are also screened far more rigourously! All kinds of medical condition will now get you a polite refusal (and a cup of tea) to accept you as a donor than 15 years ago.

    Unfortunately, there are many parts of the world where the screening message hasn't been properly translated to action (and where general blood transfusion practices fall far short of those in the developed world), e.g. the recent scandal in China (hundreds contracted AIDS from transfusions using contaminated - and inadquately tested - blood).
  18. Aug 23, 2004 #17


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    IMHO, Jehovah's Witnesses who deny their children vital blood transfusions and making other irrational choices over the head of the child due to their silly ideas, are guilty of child abuse/neglect, and parental control should be wrested from them.
    (Not to speak of the brainwashing going about in the home, severely limiting the child's prospects of becoming a rational, human being..)
  19. Aug 23, 2004 #18

    Ivan Seeking

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    Faith based, religious arguments are not permitted. Given that the accused are not allowed to defend themselves, let’s take it easy. I know how you feel but there is a rationale behind the actions that you describe.
  20. Sep 1, 2004 #19
    I feel competent to comment on the published article. I am a registered Medical Technologist that's worked in the Blood Banking department at a few hospitals. While some of what is said was accurate, for the period of 1988, they seriously skew things. Doctors go well out of the way to avoid giving blood. Approximately 75% of the blood the Red Cross furnishes to hospitals ends up not being given to patients. That doesn't mean it doesn't serve a useful function, just that it's not given. A typical unit of blood enters the Blood banking system, is typed for ABO and Rh, tested for Hepatitus and Syphillus, CMV, and more recently for HIV and a number of other infectious agents, usually thru a battery of Nucleic acid tests designed to test for a the nucleotide signatures of 'hard to detect' (via antibodies) agents. Most blood is separated into packed cells and plasma (which is flash frozen). A unit of whole blood or packed cells can be held for up to 42 days from the day it's drawn. All units negative for CMV are marked such, and the units are made available to hospital blood banks.

    Once in a blood bank, a typical unit will be crossmatched against patients that may need them. A unit may be cross matched against and held for only one patient at a time, so it will be available to them on a moments notice. These crossmatched units are generally considered reserved for that patient for two days, unless released or special arrangements are made. A single unit may be crossmatched for most of it's stay in a bloodbank. Available to a patient that is severely anemic, to one that is undergoing surgery that could result in significant bloodloss, or to a patient that have had severe trauma with blood loss.

    Receiveing blood is a dangerous thing, similar to general anesthesia. An error in the blood bank is one of the quickest ways to kill a person of any of the activities in a hospital laboratory. Procedures are in place to make this risk as low as possible. There is also a very low, but finite risk that an infectious agent is in the unit of blood.

    What this doesn't address is that almost every patient receiveing blood is in some, higher danger of death from not receiving the blood. Volume expanders such as Ringers lactate and normal saline are given to get volume up, assuming there has been a rapid blood volume loss, but if the loss has been significant or rapid enough, then one or more units of packed cells are given. Packed cells have an advantage over whole blood in that the added danger of the plasma (with it's potential for a minor side imcompatibility reaction) doesn't have to be thrown into the mix. Every physician out there, that may order blood for their patient is aware of the risks. It is likely that people get blood less often than is warranted, when comparing the risks of getting the blood compared to the risks of not getting the blood, because of this reticence of doctors for prescribing blood. I've seen patients that were in imminent danger of death from blood loss, where the doctor refused to give uncrossmatched blood (another words, they were ABO and Rh compatible, but no crossmatch had been run), but risked the patients life to wait for the crossmatch to be finished.

    It's interesting that the article was very careful to use a period of time not long after HIV, a fairly new, blood-borne disease came on the scene, and not now when the incidence of AIDs transmission in the US, from blood transfusion is less than the chance of dying from driving your car.

    When faced with the 3 to 20% chance of dying immediately because I didn't get a transfusion, compared with the 1:4000 chance of dying over the period of 10 to 15 years from AIDs or Hepatitis C, I'll risk getting the blood.

    This became a real decision in my household 6 months ago. My wife had been complaining to her doctor of severe exhaustion and malaise. The idiot finally, after over a year of these complaints, ran a CBC on her. Her hemoglobin was 6.9, with normal being around 12 for a woman. Had this happened to her suddenly, not over a long period so that her body could adjust, it would have been immediately fatal. She received two units of packed cells, and felt 500% better immediately. Needless to say she changed her doctor.
  21. Sep 9, 2004 #20
    Jehova's Witnesses...something not right with them. They seem like a mind control cult, in my opinion. But on the topic. Apparently the blood I gave my infant daughter was more dangerous than the blood she was completely transfused with. Born at six and a half months, today she is in her mid twenties and quite healthy.
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