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Transplant Proc. 2004 Apr;36(3):499-501.

Jehovah's witnesses, blood transfusions and transplantations.

Author information

1
Post-Graduate School of Andrology, University of Pisa, Lucca, Italy. sarteschi@checkupcenter.net

Abstract

The firm refusal of blood transfusion treatment by Jehovah's Witnesses has always caused some discomfort to physicians. Two fundamental principles contained in the constitution of our own and other democratic countries specifically dictate that human rights are to be respected. No one may be forced to undergo any particular health treatment, save under the provisions of the law. These principles have led doctors and lawyers to address this difficult patient-doctor issue decisively. On the one hand, a vast jurisprudence has been accumulated, which, although not resolving all the questions regarding the issue, has provided valuable guidelines, elaborated to support physicians in their treatment of patients who refuse homologous blood. On the other hand, wide-ranging research has been undertaken to find therapeutic and surgical methods that make it possible to treat patients without recourse to blood transfusions. Paradoxically, the dilemma presented to doctors by Jehovah's Witnesses has led to new knowledge regarding "the good use of blood," the advantages of which have been experienced also by non-Witnesses. In this article, we briefly consider the roots of Jehovah's Witness beliefs and the principles that lie behind their refusal of blood. Furthermore, we consider which treatments may be accepted, and which are invariably refused. Last, we examine the progress of current scientific research into alternative methodologies and the position of Jehovah's Witnesses when a transfusion is not an option, but a necessity.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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