Jehovah’s Witnesses refuse to have their blood transfused because they consider it “destroys their dignity”.
As coordinator of the Hospital Information Department of the Jehovah’s Witnesses Christian Association, Moisés Tabilo assures that there are treatment techniques that do not require the use of this method.
What the Court of Appeals of Santiago did on Tuesday was something it had already done for the first time more than twenty years ago, in 1996: to rule on an appeal for protection filed by the San José Hospital for the existence of a patient who refused to receive blood transfusions.
In both cases, these were religious reasons, as Jehovah’s Witnesses were the patients. Although the resolution taken on both occasions was different. This time, the Court ordered the facility to “adopt and apply all therapeutic measures and medical treatments necessary to protect and safeguard the life and physical and psychological integrity of the patient, including possible blood transfusions”.
Two decades ago, autonomy was privileged as a fundamental right. “The appeal is rejected and the blood transfusion is denied on the grounds that no one can be forced to defend his or her own right,” he or she said in the ruling.
It is an open and constantly debating discussion that has led the Jehovah’s Witnesses Christian Association to create a Department of Hospital Information, which has twenty committees to liaise with the campuses throughout Chile. The aim is to enable all members of the community to receive medical treatment without the need for blood transfusions, which they believe is feasible.
“Doctors are so used to using it as a means to an end that some are afraid to use other alternatives,” explains the department’s coordinating superintendent, Moisés Tabilo. “We want to make the work easier for the doctors and that is why there is this committee, which brings them articles and information or even contacts them with doctors in other countries. They can benefit from the knowledge, strategies, and experience of others,” he adds.
For Jehovah’s Witnesses, there are mandates to abstain from blood in four books of the Old and New Testaments of the Bible, because “for God, blood represents life. This aspect of religion has been pointed out by some as “fanaticism”.