Jehovah's Witnesses deny u-turn on blood transfusions

Ananova, June 14, 2000

Jehovah's Witnesses have denied reports that leaders of the controversial religion had decreed followers could now accept blood transfusions.

A spokesman for the organisation's UK headquarters rejected the suggestion that elders had ruled that Jehovah's Witnesses who accepted blood transfusions in life-or-death cases would no longer face excommunication.

Paul Gillies said: "They (Jehovah's Witnesses) have consistently refused donor blood ever since transfusions began to be widely used in civilian medical practice in the 1940s and this scriptural position has not changed."

Rumours about the U-turn in policy come after years of adverse publicity about adults and children who have died or come close to death because of their faith.

Mr Gillies said he believed the story been circulated by former members of the movement.

Jehovah's Witnesses view life as a gift from God, represented by blood. They interpret certain Bible passages to mean that they cannot accept any form of blood transfusion.

Mr Gillies said: "If one Jehovah's Witness is transfused against his or her will, Jehovah's Witnesses do not believe this constitutes a sin on the part of the individual.

"If one Jehovah's Witness accepts a blood transfusion in a moment of weakness and then later regrets the action, this would be considered a serious matter. Spiritual assistance would be offered to help the person regain spiritual strength.

"If a baptised member of the faith wilfully and without regret accepts blood transfusions, he indicates by his own actions that he no longer wishes to be one of Jehovah's Witnesses."

Last week a Jehovah's Witness, Brent Bond, from Nottingham, who lost five pints of blood in a machete attack, renounced his faith moments before losing consciousness so that he could have a lifesaving blood transfusion. In January, young mother Beverly Matthews, 33, of Stockport, died after refusing an emergency blood transfusion.

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