Jehovah Witnesses

Oct 24, 2018 | 0 comments

Oct 24, 2018 | Miscellaneous | 0 comments

Jehovah Witnesses

History of the Jehovah Witness

Jehovah Witness is a religion that is widely known all over the world with a larger percentage of the members of the religion residing in the United States. Most members of the public would know the Jehovah witness from their door-to-door ministry of well-dressed individuals who visit people offering magazines and books for sale. Charles Russell, who was intrigued by religion and discovered the Adventist beliefs founded Jehovah witness. Russell then started bible study groups and a publishing company for religious books. His congregation commonly referred to him as Pastor Russell, then launched a Zion’s Watch Tower magazine. The group continued to grow and in 1961, they published a new Bible Translation, it was then that they decided to have their own interpretation of the Bible that did not contravene God’s laws. The name Jehovah Witnesses was drawn from the Bible in accordance with Russell’s interpretation (Agapidou, 2014).

The Witnesses are expected to live according to the Bible, conducting missionary work. The religion has strict rules that if one goes against any of them they are disfellowshipped. For example, if one attends any other church such as Catholic, or Protestant. There is an also additional law regarding the kind of medical treatment they are to seek. If a witness receives blood or gives blood, they are to be dis-fellowshipped. When one is disfellowshipped, they are allowed to attend the Kingdom Hall services, but will not speak to anyone. In other words, they are treated as if they do not exist even with their closest family. Despite their beliefs, the Witnesses believe in earthly leadership and since it is for Satan. However, the witnesses do not are not servicemen in the military, pledge allegiance to the flag, rally for political leadership in the Unions of labor.

In health, perspectives the Jehovah witnesses are people with strong religious beliefs and do not prescribe to some forms of medical treatment. Since its inception, the religious beliefs of the Jehovah witnesses have placed emphasis on preaching rather than healing and illnesses. Even when the Millennium approached, they believed that all earth problems will come to an end especially those related to health would find a solution. To them mental illnesses, exist because people believe that they exist, it is for this reason that the Witnesses believe that half of the world’s population suffers from mental illness.

The beliefs of the Jehovah witnesses are drawn from the Bible. Therefore when approaching healthcare, the Jehovah witnesses are always determined not to go against the commandments of God. They take into consideration the biblical teachings of life both in spiritual and physical health aspects. Most of these stereotypic beliefs are drawn from their founder Russell, who believed that falling ill begun from Adam. Some of the beliefs include that Jehovah Witnesses should not operate hospitals like other Christian denominations because at some point one the founders Clayton Woodworth regarded the American Medical Association was an institution founded in ignorance and error. Additionally, Clayton as most of the staunch Jehovah witnesses does not vaccinate themselves and their family and regard vaccination as a violation of God’s laws. It was easy for these beliefs to spread since Clayton was the chief editor of the Golden Magazine that was simply a publication of his views and the official Watch Tower Publications. Despite these strong beliefs, most Witnesses of this age regard to respect for medical research, hospitals. In addition, some of them operate hospitals and are employed as physicians and doctors.

Introduction

Jehovah Witnesses’ rejection of blood transfusion is widely known, and they would rather let a family or friends die than allow transfusion or donate blood. They believe that blood is a source of life and if removed from the body even for storage is makes it dirty and should not be reused. Consequently, the members do not accept surgical procedures that involve taking away and storage of their own blood. In these beliefs children, the most affected ones since parents have the duty to make all medical decisions for their children. In addition, the members do not accept organ donation and can only accept a bloodless organ transplant. This paper shall begin by describing the beliefs of the Jehovah witness and their effect on the administration of healthcare. The paper shall then provide strategies for overcoming these beliefs and barriers to guarantee good health care for Jehovah Witnesses. The paper will have a recommendation and a conclusion section.

Jehovah Witnesses Healthcare Beliefs and how they impede receiving of Healthcare

The Jehovah Witnesses are primarily known to refuse a blood transfusion. According to the religious beliefs, one loses eligibility to enter paradise if they accept blood from another person or donate blood. Most Jehovah Witnesses carry with them a medic alert card that has instructions that prohibit blood transfusion. Additionally, they refuse healthcare procedures that may necessitate blood transfusion, for instance, heart surgeries. However, some of their members have the choice of deciding whether to accept blood or not. The law allows any adult to refuse a blood transfusion, however for children this decision is usually left to their parents and guardians. Therefore, most children from Jehovah Witness families are very likely to die since their parents will not allow blood transfusion or surgeries that may require a blood transfusion. Such incidences prompt the hospital to seek the intervention of the court to save the life of a child. The situation is usually worse if it does not reach the court in time. The blood transfusion belief is usually at the heart of most Jehovah witnesses’ families, and the conflict arises when the medical practitioners are concerned with how to manage their healthcare.

Jehovah Witnesses believe that life begins at conception. Therefore, medical procedures such as abortion are not permitted, even when the life of a mother is in danger. Since life begins at conception, terminating, a pregnancy is a sin according to the Holy Bible. Therefore, the witnesses believe that the life or right of a mother is not to be questioned to pave the way for abortion. Every pregnancy is God’s will. In one of their famous publications, Awake, abortion should not be used to control birth since it is against God’s Commands.

Another medical belief related to blood transfusion is the managing the health of pregnant women. It is a normal medical condition that some pregnant women would require additional blood for their safety and that of the baby. However, Jehovah witness pregnant women are known to decline blood transfusion even when it is threatening their lives. To Jehovah, witness blood represents life and should not be transfused.

The religious beliefs of Jehovah Witnesses do not permit them to donate their organs. They say that organs contain blood and that the Bible prohibits sharing of blood and would not let any other person’s blood flow in theirs. They also do not agree to organ transplantation unless it is on the bloodless basis. Therefore, they would advise their doctors to conduct surgery where it does not involve sharing of blood. In this case, the patient is prepared early enough, for example giving them vitamins and foods that will increase their blood content.

Sterilization is also prohibited in the Jehovah Witness religious beliefs. No reference is drawn from the Bible, however; their argument originates from an ethical perspective. They argue that if one is sterilized, they may likely change their mind and want to have children. They say that sterilization is a threat to the institution of marriage. Closely related to sterilization is contraception. The Jehovah Witness organization advice its members against accepting any contraceptive. They argue that our bodies are the temple of God and taking contraception is interfering with God’s work. To add on, they argue that contraception sometimes results in abortion, which is prohibited, in the Bible.

Surrogacy is condemned by the religion, whether one is impregnated by artificial insemination or by an embryo of the married couple. Artificial insemination and the surrogacy procedures are regarded as an abuse of marriage and matrimonial bed. Artificial insemination by an unknown donor is explained as a form of adultery.

How to overcome the health care barriers/ Beliefs

Children belong to the State, and that is the duty of the Federal Government to ensure the health of such children. Parents have a role to play in ensuring their child receives proper medical care; however when they fail to perform this role the state is supposed to interfere to save the life of a child. Members of the Jehovah witness do not allow certain medical procedures for their family. For example, as explained earlier blood transfusion is prohibited and if a terminally ill child is need of blood the decision is left to the parents. For fear of being unfellowshipped, the parents always choose not to allow blood transfusion or let their child undergo surgery requiring a blood transfusion. To overcome these challenge courts have always been called upon to rule whether or not the child should undergo the treatment. However, sometimes the decision of the courts may take a longer time. Therefore, the state should pass legislation to allow hospital superintendent to allow this treatment especially about protecting the life of a child. Members of the Jehovah Witnesses do not accept blood transfusion in accordance with their religious beliefs. However, they still want quality medical care that does not use blood transfusion procedures. Situations of medical emergencies are prone to the need to conduct blood transfusion to save the life of a patient. In particular, they refuse transfusion of blood and all blood components. It is upon the Jehovah Witness patient to decide whether to accept a blood transfusion. The religion, however, specifies various solutions, for instance, it suggests the use of normal saline, dextrin, lactated Ringer’s Solution for Jehovah Witness patients. To reduce blood loss and increase the necessity for a blood transfusion the religion advises on the use of desmopressin and aprotinin.

To ensure all the rules concerning healthcare are observed the Watchtower has created several Hospital Liaison Committees in most hospitals to ensure that the patient’s requests are respected. Since most Witnesses do not accept a blood transfusion, it is a hard task for doctors and physicians in managing such patients. Doctors, therefore are forced to understand such patients to avoid legal actions. Doctors would opt for erythropoietin combined with iron supplements that enhance hemoglobin synthesis.

Finding medical solutions to blood transfusion is an effective way of managing the health of Jehovah Witness patients. According to Partovi et al., doctors must respect the wishes of the patients and seek alternative treatment methods. In their papers, further, the hospital provides a case study of a 57-year old witness patient who was diagnosed with anemia. In their research, they recognize the United States Food and Drug Administration approved that Human erythropoietin for the treatment of anemia that is associated with chronic renal failure. They explain that erythropoietin has amino acids that stimulate the production of red blood cells. Additionally, zidovudine therapy has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration of the United States for the treatment of patients with immunodeficiency virus infection, anemia, and cancer therapy. Fortunately, the Witnesses have approved the therapy as an option for blood transfusion. In the case study, we learn that it is possible to treat an anemic patient with a hemoglobin level lower than 7.5 g/DL (Partovi et al., 2013)..

For religious reasons, Jehovah Witnesses do not accept blood transfusion but accept organ transplantation. Various medical scholars have researched on how to conduct bloodless organ transplants. For example, research on a bloodless liver transplant protocol. The research conducted on Jehovah Witness patients that first underwent erythropoietin and iron therapy, which increased their Haematocrit. Seven of the patients underwent total liver transplant using the continuous circuit cell saving system and high dose aprotinin. The surgery transplant was successful since all the patients received no blood during the procedure. From the research, we find that it is possible to carry out bloodless transplant or use the patient’s blood for successful surgical procedures. The doctors were able to reduce the intraoperative need for blood products since the patients were prepared earlier for the surgery. Such procedures help in overcoming the blood transfusion barrier among Witness patients (Partovi et al., 2013).

Recommendations

This section shall provide a number of strategic recommendations on how to overcome the health challenges posed by Jehovah Witness patients. It is the constitutional right of every person to refuse unwanted medical therapies regardless of whether the decision is in line with the doctor’s medical judgment. This right to reject treatment may be exercised by the patient directly or a parent over their child. This, therefore, means a Jehovah Witness patient who clearly states that they do not want a blood transfusion, and then the physician is expected to honor this wishes even in the face of a life-threatening hemorrhage. However, in cases of medical emergencies such as treatment of sexually transmitted illnesses among minor, physicians are protected from legal action if they decide to treat a Jehovah minor. Additionally, the state is allowed to step in if the life of a minor is in danger and the only solution is for such a minor to undergo a blood transfusion.

Some states have enacted a law that allows the medical physician to treat a child or minor without the parents or guardians permission. For instance, the State of North Carolina has allowed the treatment of minors without the parents in several circumstances. For example, sexually transmitted diseases, drug abuse, pregnancy and emotional disturbance. In addition, the laws of North Carolina do not allow parents not to treat their children based on their religious beliefs. In addition, 41 states provide the exception religious beliefs, especially in child abuse cases. The department of child services is also allowed to step in and take custody of the minor if the minor is in need of medical attention, (Lindholm, 2012).

I would recommend that medical practitioners seek assistance from others in case they faced with a conflict of treating a Jehovah witness minor. In addition, they should make use of the Hospital Liaison Committees set by the Jehovah witness to oversee that the Jehovah Witness patient’s religious beliefs are not threatened.

Furthermore, more states should enact laws that protect physicians from liability in case they decide to save the life of a minor by conducting the prohibited health procedures by the Jehovah witnesses. A good example in the state of Carolina that has enacted a law that allows doctors to treat emergency medical treatment despite the parents or patients objections. The same law protects the doctors from legal action in case they choose not to honor the wishes of the parent or the patient. Such laws do not direct the action of the doctor but consider it a moral one.

Conclusion

Jehovah witnesses are very religious and follow their interpretation of the Bible to the letter. Any witness who goes against the health beliefs then they are likely to be dis-fellowshipped. Their religious beliefs are sometimes seen as a barrier to physicians when offering medical services. One of the major beliefs is that blood is life and should not be shared or transfused. It is for this reason that most Jehovah Witnesses carry with them special cards that would help the doctors know the medical procedures they would not need. In addition, there are Liaisons Committees set to ensure Jehovah Witnesses patients get the treatment they require. Jehovah Witnesses believe that organ transplantation is fine but if it involves the exchange of blood, then it should not be done. It is for this reason that most Witnesses would not undergo surgeries that may prompt blood transfusion.

There are also a growing number of bloodless surgeries that physicians are researching on; there are over hundred Medical Centers that offer this kind of treatment in the United States. Since Witnesses accept this kind of treatment, then they should not be subjected to blood transfusion surgeries since this is likely to affect their mental health. In addition, it is important to understand that the children of Jehovah Witness carry the most religious belief burden since they have mixed feelings between religious prohibitions and personal inclinations.

Communication between the patient and the medical doctor is very important to ensure that there is no conflict concerning the form of medical treatment. Recognition of the right and autonomy of every patient is the duty of every medical practitioner. For pregnant women who refuse a blood transfusion, it is important to the doctor in charge to plan alternative treatment that shall be used in the event of hemorrhage. The same applies to a patient who is supposed to undergo an organ transplant; such patients are supposed to be prepared earlier enough to ensure that no complication arises where they would be forced to need blood.

References

Agapidou, A., Vakalopoulou, S., Papadopoulou, T., Chadjiaggelidou, C., & Garypidou, V. (2014). Successful treatment of severe anemia using erythropoietin in a Jehovah Witness with non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Hematology Reports, 6(4), 73-74. doi:10.4081/hr.2014.5600

Lindholm, J., Palmér, K., & Frenckner, B. (2012). Long-term ECMO treatment in Jehovah’s Witness patient without transfusions. Perfusion, 27(4), 332-334. doi:10.1177/0267659112444328

Partovi, S., Bruckner, B., Staub, D., Ortiz, G., Scheinin, S., Seethamraju, H., & Loebe, M. (2013). Bloodless Lung Transplantation in Jehovah’s Witnesses: Impact on Perioperative Parameters and Outcome Compared With a Matched Control Group. Transplantation Proceedings, 45(1), 335-341. doi:10.1016/j.transproceed.2012.06.057