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.

Hypocrisy: Will It Ever End?

The title of this blog post mirrors that of an article from the December 2015 online edition of The Watchtower.

In the Watchtower article, three people are featured: Panayiota, Daniel and Jeffery. Each person wrestles with their own dilemma, but I will concentrate on Daniel.

Daniel has disturbing memories of “priests who drank heavily, gambled, and stole from the collection plate.” However, during Mass, these priests would warn their parishioners not to sin so they would not burn in hell. The Watchtower makes it clear that these priests were hypocritical.

Later in the article, it is revealed that Daniel “made an error” which caused him to relinquish some of his privileges in the Kingdom Hall. The article doesn’t mention what he did, but it does let the reader know that he was ‘readjusted’ and able to resume his privileges “with a good conscience.”

The article ends by encouraging the reader to “find out who Jehovah’s Witnesses are” and “what they believe.”

The December 2015 Watchtower bemoans hypocrisy in “nearly every area of human activity”

Watchtower image

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When I read this article, many thoughts ran through my mind. One thing I noticed is that, when reading about the priests in Daniel’s scenario, there was no mention of child sexual abuse. These priests drank heavily, gambled and stole from the collection plate… but they weren’t pedophiles! Over the years, how many times have the Watchtower and Awake! magazines mentioned the child sexual abuse crisis that grips the Roman Catholic Church?

In the June 2009 issue of the Awake! magazine, three pages were devoted to Catholic youth. That article mentions that Catholic youth are “disillusioned by church scandals, such as those involving pedophile priests.”

While the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society was devoting pages of theAwake! magazine to warning Catholic youth about church scandals and pedophile priests, they were hiding the child sexual abuse scandal taking place within their own organization.

During my teenage years and into my early twenties, I attended a small Kingdom Hall. When I was around thirteen years old, I was close friends with another girl my age. Once in a while, after school, we would spend time together. Her mother was single and was dating a brother from the Kingdom Hall. He was the conductor of the Tuesday night book study at the Hall, so I assume he was a ministerial servant or maybe even an elder.

My friend told me that she didn’t like her mother’s boyfriend. I couldn’t imagine why. He was soft-spoken and always very nice when I saw him at the Hall. She told me that the reason she didn’t like him was that he had molested her many times over a period of about a year. I don’t know where it happened. I only know what she chose to share with me.

I don’t know if he also molested non-JW kids, but at some point, someone reported him to the police. He went to jail.

The Kingdom Hall that I attended for 11 years.

The Kingdom Hall that I attended for 11 years.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the Kingdom Hall, people noticed that he was missing meetings. I don’t think many people (except the elders) knew where he went. I remember hearing that he was away, but would be back. One night, many months later, I entered the Kingdom Hall on a Tuesday or Thursday night and he was there. People were surrounding him and hugging him. My friend and her mother were also there that night. I felt bad for them because no one knew what that brother had done to my friend. If the others knew, would they be hugging him?

That night, from the podium, the speaker welcomed this brother back to the Hall and everyone clapped. They welcomed him home as if he had just come back from serving a mission. To this day, I still think the whole thing was bizarre.

While researching for this article, I checked the Sexual Offender Registry for my home state. He is among the people listed.

In the December 2015 article, “Hypocrisy! Will It Ever End?,” it states that Daniel was ‘readjusted’ and able to resume his privileges “with a good conscience.”

Before there was an online Sexual Offender Registry, did people at the Kingdom Hall know there was a pedophile in their midst at our small Kingdom Hall? According to the list, he has been arrested for child sexual abuse multipletimes since the 1980’s. Apparently, he was not ‘readjusted’, although he was welcomed back to the Kingdom Hall and allowed to resume conducting the Tuesday night book study “with a good conscience.”

There are so many examples of hypocrisy within the Watchtower organization. In Australia, child sexual abuse within the Watchtower organization has been investigated. In England, an investigation is in the planning stages. Do these scandals make the pages of the Watchtower and Awake! magazines?

In the December 2015 article, it states that those who serve God without hypocrisy “learn to ‘remove the rafter’ from their own eye before offering to ‘remove the straw’ from their brother’s eye.” By their own definition, they are hypocrites!

It is time for the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society to follow their advice and “remove the rafter” from their own eye.