The Irony of a Newborn’s Blood Transfusion

My brother, Donald, was not always one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. He became one at age twenty. This story begins in February 1958.

Donald at three months old

Donald at three months old

My mother had “type O” blood with a negative Rh factor. In other words, she had “O-negative” blood. Soon after Donald was born, it was apparent that something was terribly wrong. He was severely jaundiced and was not thriving. A blood test confirmed the physician’s suspicions. Donald had a positive RH factor. In addition, he had “Type AB” blood. The reason this is a problem is because my mother’s “O-negative” blood saw my brother Donald’s “AB-positive blood” as an enemy invader. Her body produced antibodies that attacked his red blood cells.

He developed Hemolytic Disease of the Newborn (HDN). Since my mother had O-negative blood and my brother had AB-positive blood, it could have been either of two types of HDN. One type happens when a mother’s negative Rh factor produces antibodies to fight the baby’s positive Rh factor. The second type happens when the mother’s O-type blood attacks the baby’s AB-type blood. I will never know what caused him to develop HDN.

In 1958, the treatment for babies with HDN was to perform an “exchange transfusion” soon after birth.

An “exchange transfusion” involves removing small amounts of the baby’s blood and replacing it with a healthy donor’s blood. Little-by-little, over a period of hours, the baby’s blood is completely removed and replaced (exchanged) by a healthy donor’s blood. Hence, the term “exchange transfusion”.

I am thankful that he had that blood transfusion when he was born. I cherished having him as my oldest brother.

That's me, sitting on Donald's lap. Our brother Mike is next to him.

That’s me, sitting on Donald’s lap. Our brother Mike is next to him.

The irony:

When my brother’s life began, his health was in danger and a blood transfusion saved his life. When he was twenty, he became one of Jehovah’s Witnesses:

Donald (circled in red) stepping out of the pool, moments after being baptized.

Donald (circled in red) stepping out of the pool, moments after being baptized.

In 1986, my brother was diagnosed with Acute Myelogenous Leukemia. He was told he had one to six weeks to live. He needed a blood transfusion and a bone marrow transplant to have any hope of survival. He refused to have a blood transfusion. That decision led to his death, six weeks after being diagnosed with leukemia.

Donald died ten days before his 28th birthday. A victim of the Watchtower's blood doctrine.

Donald died ten days before his 28th birthday. A victim of the Watchtower’s blood doctrine.

He lived for twenty-seven years because he had a life-saving blood transfusion.

He died after refusing the one thing that could have saved him… a blood transfusion.

Please click this link to read about my brother’s leukemia and death.

8 Replies to “The Irony of a Newborn’s Blood Transfusion”

  1. Hello Karen, I have just opened my eyes to the Watchtower s practises. That they are dictating and still pushing the man made doctrine of no blood is despicable. People are dying for no reason whatsoever. An interview with a rabbi lay this myth bare, the Watchtower is blood guilty. I wish there was a way of legally punishing them for this false teaching. Maybe Culpable Homicide. Who knows in the future, maybe some people will get justice ,I sincerely hope so. Take care. Xx

    • I always make sure to keep the Watchtower (Governing Body) in a separate category from the rank-and-file Jehovah’s Witness. The Witnesses are truly living what they believe is the Truth. I don’t have contempt for Jehovah’s Witnesses.
      My issue is with the doctrine-making Watchtower Organization (Governing Body).

  2. Thank you for your courage in sharing Donald’s story. This was a terrible tragedy and although that evil cult had a hand in his death, many people have been enriched by sharing in his life. I believe, yes know, that those wicked elders will give account for this at “Jehovah’s” dreadful throne. God bless you and your family.

  3. Dear Karenne:
    I relived episodes of my past with Donald’s story as told by you. I admire your courage in telling it as I can well imagine how you must have re-lived it all. I was baptized in the JW Org. on Dec. 15, 1958 and lasted till April or May 1980. Too long if I must say. In 1963 my husband (boyfriend at the time) and I had a very bad car accident in Puerto Rico in which I woke up in the hospital and my parents, also witnesses were telling the doctor not to infuse blood. So I was threathened with this issue and was ready to die regardless. I’m so glad I got a second chance to live and live through this nightmare of the JW Org. They have changed so very many teaches and doctrines, which shows us that religion is nothing more than men leading men. I want to thank you and let you know that I’m sure everyone reading your story will feel encouraged by you and steer clear of the JW’s. We are writing a book, “Free at Last the Memoirs of Nestor & Toni Kuilan” where we tell all and many hidden things that most witnesses don’t know about their organization.

    • Bonnie, I often wish my twin boys could have known him. He would have been such a fun uncle! He was good with kids and they missed out on having him in their life.

  4. Thank you for your story. My heart goes out to you and your family.As a ex witness I believed in and supported the blood issue.I still have family that are Witnesses.I have seen friends die because of this idiotic man-made up rule. Eventually I figured out what a controlling cult the Witnesses are.

    Thank you for your story. It will save the lives of other Witnesses and their families


  5. Love GOD, Love OneSelf and Love Life and Be Kind – All Organised religion is Evil -The work Of The Devil.Sorry!

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