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Jehovah witnesses are a Christian denomination that emerged from a bible student movement in the late 19th century (Bowman, 1995). Charles T. Russell developed the bible student movement in the 19th century at st Pittsburgh (Bowman, 1995). The Jehovah witnesses are known for door-to-door evangelism, crusades, and members refusal to bear arms, salute flags, or accept blood transfusions. Unlike other Christian denominations, the Jehovah witnesses reject trinitarianism (Bowman, 1995). The Jehovah witnesses have a well-organised system for the distribution of their literature. The Jehovah witnesses do not observe celebrations such as Christmas, Easter, or birthdays. This is because they believe that such celebrations do not have a biblical origin (Bowman, 1995). Recently Jehovah witnesses have faced wide criticism regarding their practice of excommunication.
Jehovah witnesses have refused blood transfusion or transfusion of any of its major components such as the RBCs even in cases of medical emergencies. This is because the bible does not allow for the ingestion of blood. This belief was introduced in 1945 after blood transfusion gained popularity (Noorily and bready, 2007). Jehovah witnesses now support bloodless surgery where other alternatives, which do not involve blood transfusion, are used. However, some individual Jehovah witness members have accepted blood transfusion depending on the severity of the illness. Several medical interventions require the use of blood transfusion. Some cancers may require the use of blood components such as platelets. For example, during birth obsteritic haemorrhage may occur and may require blood transfusion to correct the situation (Noorily and bready, 2007). However, Jehovah witness members have faced increased maternal mortality because of haemorrhage (Noorily and bready, 2007). the physician should discuss the alternatives that are available to the patient early in the pregnancy.
Jehovah witnesses have created Liaison committees with the hospitals to ensure that their members receive health care within their religious beliefs. The committees work hand in hand with physicians and the patient. Hospitals offer advice to the patient and educate them on issues related to blood transfusion. This includes informing them on the available alternatives (Noorily and bready, 2007). They also educate them on the benefits and risks associated with accepting or rejecting blood transfusion. Hospitals have now developed consent forms that help the patient make this important decision. Conflicts have emerged in the past where surgeons and anaesthesiologists were blamed for performing blood transfusion on Jehovah witness members during emergencies (Noorily and bready, 2007).
Religious beliefs often influence an individual’s choice of health care. It is important that the patient is aware of the benefits and risks of undertaking any medical intervention. Jehovah witnesses believe that blood transfusion is demonic and since 1945, they have refrained from this practice. Some Jehovah witness members have undertaken blood transfusion in order to survive. Recently Jehovah witnesses have developed liaisons with hospitals, which have enabled use of alternative treatment methods for their members.