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One of the most apparent features of modern society is the fact that the absolute majority of people have the rights to express their opinion and profess the religions that they consider true. These core rights protect human nature and allow each person to develop his or her own thoughts with the help of knowledge, which seems unique and right to every member of the community. At the same time, the rules that the Jehovahs Witnesses adhere to can violate modern medical practices, for example, blood transfusion. It may endanger human life. The studies show that although the followers of this religious group cannot use traditional methods of treatment, the new practices and tools allow them to receive surgical and blood-restoring services.
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Beliefs of Jehovahs Witnesses
The foundation of the faith of Jehovahs Witnesses is the Bible, which they interpret from a different perspective than the Protestants and Catholics do, even though these denominations are similar in certain aspects. What is more, the main distinction of the Jehovahs Witnesses teaching is that the representatives of this religious group deny the existence of the Holy Trinity and believe that God is one being whose name is Jehovah. Furthermore, they are convinced that Jesus and the Holy Spirit are not God while Jehovah is the old name of the Christian God who is the only faithful one. In their opinion, the belief in the triune God is a borrowing from pagan mythology, which has nothing similar with the authentic teaching of the Bible. According to the statistics, currently, there are more than 8 million followers of this Christian denomination (2017 Yearbook of Jehovahs Witnesses, 2016). The United States is the country, in which the largest number of Jehovahs Witnesses live. Thus, American doctors often face different needs of the adherents of this religious group. Nevertheless, the above-mentioned factors are not decisive or problematic for the representatives of the medical community. However, particular concepts of Jehovahs Witnesses doctrine warn the followers that some modern medical practices are forbidden to them. First, the Jehovahs Witnesses adhere to the demand not to use medical techniques for treating blood (Keep Yourselves in Gods Love, 2016). Most of them reject the application of blood transfusion, tablets containing essential elements of blood, and other practices that may be ensure persons proper treatment. In addition, many Jehovahs Witnesses are so interested in following this prohibition that they carry with themselves a special completed form, which confirms the individuals refusal of blood transfusion in case he/she becomes a victim of an accident. Therefore, certain medical practices should be reviewed when treating these patients.
Difficulties in Providing Medical Services
One of the most common problems, which medical workers face in the treatment of patients today, is the difficulty of helping people who received serious injuries that caused open or internal bleeding. In this case, the standard method that the doctors use is the blood transfusion. The latter allows them to resume the required level of hemoglobin in the human organism so that it can be restored in the future. However, this traditional method may not be suitable for a representative of Jehovahs Witnesses. In this case, a doctor can choose between two ways of actions that can be ethical towards both his/her responsibility to protect the health and life of a person and patients demands. First, in case there is such possibility, the medical staff should ask a patient whether the minimal amount of blood could be used for restoring his or her body. Some Jehovahs Witnesses who are not too strict about following all religious rules may agree on these small manipulations to save their lives. At the same time, if this opportunity is not available, it is important to act according to the strategy of maintaining the most significant amount of blood in a patients body. Thus, medical personnel should put effort into blocking a wound and preventing the inflammatory process.
Stopping blood is not the only action that a doctor should take towards a patient who refused to experience blood transfusion. The next factor, which affects a person who has undergone an operation or bleeding, is anemia, which can also be life-threatening if it goes to severe stage. In this case, the primary activity of a medical worker should concern constant estimation of the level of hemoglobin, red blood cells, and other components of blood in a patients body since it can help to assess the level of health and provide recovery. At the same time, if anemia passes in calm pace and allows the body to restore the blood composition on its own, one should not try to break this process. In case anemia threatens a persons life, it is necessary to remember that even blood constituents are not accepted as an option among Jehovahs Witnesses; therefore, a doctor must use other methods (Do Jehovahs Witnesses Accept Medical Treatment?, n.d.). The most suitable option is the stimulation of erythropoiesis through the blood saturation due to such substances as rhEPO, folic acid, and B12. Therefore, the medical personnel should pay attention to all possibilities that allow accelerating the recovery of blood in patients with anemia.
Despite the fact that today, doctors have many opportunities to stop various types of bleeding, analyze the composition of blood, and fill blood with the necessary vitamins, the condition of certain patients stays poor because of anemia, and their bodies still requires blood transfusion. Nevertheless, even in this case, the representatives of Jehovahs Witnesses should not become the victims of discrimination and experience using techniques that they do not support. Regarding this aspect, modern medicine actively explores the field of creating blood substitutes that can be suitable for people whose religion prohibits them from transfusing even their own blood (Do Jehovahs Witnesses Accept Medical Treatment?, n.d.). It is also worth noting that although the administrations of all states do not support the use of most of these products, they can be the only chance to save the lives of Jehovahs Witnesses in particular circumstances; therefore, their use can be included in the treatment of patients with severe anemia. The primary function of the blood substitutes is to increase the oxygenation for improving the recovery process without the utilization of cells of hemoglobin, red blood cells, and other components of the blood. Thus, modern medicine allows doctors not to face ethical dilemma in the treatment of Jehovahs Witnesses because blood substitutes can support the process of their recovery without violating the religious rules.
Despite the rapid development of medicine, which meets the needs of people, some of Jehovahs Witnesses refuse to undergo necessary surgeries and justify their choice by the claim that it is impossible to conduct these operations without blood transfusion. However, in this case, a practitioner should draw patients attention to the fact that modern medical procedures can stop bleeding, and the doctors can use various blood substitutes to help a patient. Besides, he or she can tell an ill person that in present operations, it is possible to use such devices as ultrasound scalpel, electrocautery, and other hemostatic surgical instruments. In addition, unlike unscheduled actions that can cause difficulties during a surgery and the recovery, the planned ones are as safe as possible even without the use of blood transfusion. In this case, a doctor applies the strategy of preparation for an operation as well as prescribes additional vitamins and preparations for accelerated blood regeneration both before and after the medical procedures. Thus, although a patient experiences the consequences of anemia during the postoperative period and may have more severe symptoms than a person who agrees on the transfusion, these symptoms are not life-threatening and are within the permissible limits.
It is worth noting that despite the fact that Jehovahs Witnesses have strictly determined rules concerning the matter of blood transfusion, they do not reject such medical practices as transplantation and donation of organs. Many medical professionals are convinced that if a follower of Jehovahs Witnesses needs a transplant, it is unethical and incorrect to offer this service to him/her since it may hurt persons religious feelings. At the same time, modern tools and practices allow lowering blood loss during a surgery, using various substitutes, and reducing substances for the improvement of blood composition. Regarding organ transplantation, Jehovahs Witnesses do not have specific rules that prohibit them from using other peoples tissues for replacing their own (Do Jehovahs Witnesses Accept Medical Treatment?, n.d.). It is vital to remember the basic rule of rendering services to the representatives of this religious movement their refusal of transfusion that requires the pumping of blood from an organ before its transplantation. Therefore, Jehovahs Witnesses should be able to get organ transplantation despite their rejection of the blood transfusion.
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In conclusion, although most of Jehovahs Witnesses are skeptical about such practice as blood transfusion, modern techniques allow healthcare providers not only to prevent anemia occurrence but also to perform surgery and organ transplantation. Just like other modern practitioners, I believe that working with a patient who belongs to this religious group requires taking into account the opinion of a person about the blood transfusion procedure. One can politely clarify whether a patient has an acceptable standard applicable in a life-threatening case. Nevertheless, medicine allows using alternative methods in delivering healthcare services. It enables the provision of all kinds of assistance to Jehovahs Witnesses.