Dorothy McPhee has a life-threateningmedical problem. An artery that could burst at anytime
.—"The normal way of doing this operation is,generally through the abdomen, a long verticalincision . . . "
Leslie is a young girl with a serious spinal deformity
. —"The patient is a Jehovah's Witness, and in aprocedure of this magnitude, it's unavoidable thatsome blood loss will occur.
Both patients need surgery, yet, both patients havereligious beliefs that preclude their accepting a bloodtransfusion. Medical science is now providing doctorswith alternative strategies to treat successfully patientswho, for various reasons avoid blood transfusions.These new strategies may soon benefit all patients.
At the dawn of the 21st century, society is becomingincreasingly diverse. People everywhere are being exposedto different languages, customs, cultures, and religious beliefs. Adapting to these differences is a challenge to allstrata of human society. It is a singular challenge for themedical community.
Prof. Timothy W. Harding:
"We're living in a pluralisticsociety, and the doctor has one set of values. But, he or shewill meet patients who have their own values and their own position about certain issues."
Eileen Yost, R.N:
"There's a lot of different cultures outthere, and they have entities specific to their own cultures,that we as health-care workers need to understand."
Prof. Oliver Guillod:
"I think the duty of physicians is notsimply to preserve life, but the first and foremost duty of physicians is to respect the patient."
In the past the medical profession found itdifficult, at times, to respect the health care need of onereligious group, in particular—Jehovah's Witnesses. Thiswas because of their avoidance of blood transfusions.
"That was the easiest decision, because there was. .. under no circumstances would I accept blood. . . "
"One thing I heard; he said: 'blood transfusion,'and immediately I said: 'No! No!' . . . "
"I just couldn't live with myself if I turned my back on my beliefs, and my God, and . . . I wasn't going toaccept a blood transfusion."
Their abstaining from blood transfusions wasoften misunderstood by the public.
Prof. Roland Hetzer:
"There was certainly a time, years back, when Jehovah's Witnesses were looked at by physicians, and especially surgeons, in a negative way."
Jamie Pollard, R.N.:
"I think that before I ever met aJehovah's Witness, I had a certain mind-set, that they weremaybe a religious fanatic-type person."
Prof. Charles H. Baron:
"Part of it, I'm sure, is prejudice,about a religious sect, which the physician, or the judge, or the lawyer, . . . about which they may know next tonothing."
Gene Smalley—JW spokesman:
"Á lot of peoplenowadays have heard of dangers, or diseases, that might becontracted from blood and blood transfusions. But frankly,for Jehovah's Witnesses, central to their avoiding bloodtransfusions, is because the Bible highlights the preciousness of blood."
Eugene Rosam—JW spokesman:
"It's a very clear statement, by the way. It isn't something that takes a lot of theological study to determine, or work out. It says very plainly in the Christian scriptures:
"Abstain . . . from Blood."—Acts 15:20.Prof. Charles H. Baron:
"From the point of view of someone who is not a believer, it seems an irrational act."
Prof. Edward Keyserlingk:
"For some people, it seems to be anti-medicine. It seems to be, somehow, putting the patient in jeopardy."
Diane Mitchell C.C.M.:
"I think that some of us, myself included, was under the impression that maybe Jehovah'sWitnesses didn't want the best medical treatment, that theywere sort of against medical care."
"There's no question, it mattered to me whether shelived or died. I brought her to the hospital in the first place,to help her recover."
"I didn't want her to die, and I don't think anybody wants that to happen."
Dr. Mark E. Boyd:
"It's not some sort of suicide pact thatthey want to enter into with you. They want to live, theywant to have good health care, and I think that you canwork with them."
Diane Mitchell, C.C.M.:
"I realized that they wanted the best medical health care, but they just wanted it without blood."
Prof. Edward Keyserlingk:
"I think the effort has to bemade to remove the perception that Jehovah's Witnessesare somehow in a category by themselves."