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