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March 1982

Blood Transfusion in Adult Jehovah's Witnesses: A Case Study of One Congregation

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Medicine, Division of General Internal Medicine, Veterans Administration Hospital and the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, Denver. Dr Findley is a fellow of the University of California, San Diego.

Arch Intern Med. 1982;142(3):606-607. doi:10.1001/archinte.1982.00340160186032

• Jehovah's Witnesses, a religious group that prohibits certain types of medical treatment, eg, blood transfusions, tissue transplantations, and abortions, has 535,000 practicing members in the United States. We believe physicians should be informed of these beliefs to treat this large group of people properly. We studied one congregation's medical needs and beliefs in Denver by mailing a questionnaire to the 70 adult members. Their responses indicated that all of the members believe that accepting a blood transfusion is morally wrong. Seventeen members (29%) had refused a blood transfusion for themselves, and 27 members (46%) had had "bloodless" surgery performed on themselves or a family member. A majority of the congregation indicated they would consider suing a physician who would force them to receive a blood transfusion. Of the 43 members (73%) of the congregation who had regular physicians, eight members (19%) said their physicians were unaware of their refusal to accept blood products. The members of this congregation seek a physician who can respect their beliefs, understand bloodless surgical procedures, and vigorously treat every member within the limits of their religious beliefs.

(Arch Intern Med 1982;142:606-607)

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