JWs – BLOODY DEATHS LIST
(Investigator 75, 2000 November)
THE DOCTRINE AND ITS PROBLEMS
Around 1945 the Leaders of Jehovah's Witnesses (JWs) imposed the doctrine that blood transfusions are dangerous and against God's law.
Much debate ensued in journals of philosophy, medicine and law on whether people who say "No" to medical treatment should be compelled to accept when life is at stake.
Points and principles relevant to the issue included:
- Free expression of religion
- Right of bodily self-determination
- Preserving a life for the welfare and safety of others
- Patient-implied consent vs next of kin
- State interest in preventing suicide
- State interest in protecting incompetents
- State protection of the medical profession
- State interest in protecting children
(Byrn, R M Compulsory Lifesaving Treatment for the Competent Adult. In: Contemporary Issues in Bioethics, 1978, Beauchamp, T L & Walters, L Dickenson, USA, pp. 150-161)
Philosophers debated legal paternalism, medical paternalism, freedom vs. coercion, informed parental consent, good Samaritanism, freedom and rationality, limits of religious freedom, etc.
The debates, however, hardly touched on:
- Membership loss rate among JWs. Since ex JWs usually condemn the anti-blood doctrine, a JW whose life is saved by compulsion may later be glad when he leaves the sect.
- JWs have a high rate of doctrinal change. Might their opposition to blood transfusion eventually be abandoned?
- Is "indoctrination" of propaganda morally wrong? Should life-threatening choices that flow from indoctrination be permitted? Are JW doctrines taught or indoctrinated?
- Do JWs reject transfusions due to social threats and pressures?
On point "1" consider an example on the Internet by Paul Blizzard:Toung [is] a refugee from Vietnam. He and his wife escaped from Vietnam after its fall and immigrated to the U.S. His wife earned a bachelor's degree in computer science and Toung is a technician of some sort.The defection rate among JWs was estimated in Investigator No. 71 at near 2% per annum. This led to a calculation that half of all baptized JWs are only temporary members.
They were converted to the JWs from Buddhism, believing it was Christianity. They have been JWs for about 4 years. Last Fall, Toung's wife was delivering her second child when she began to hemorrhage. The elders called and the "hospital committee" came and surrounded the bed. Heaping guilt on this couple, they convinced them of "god's law on blood transfusion." The doctors pleaded with Toung and his wife to take the simple procedure which would save her life… Toung watched his young, beautiful wife slip into a coma and die as a result of severe blood loss.
The newspapers picked up the story and rushed to Toung for an interview. Toung, still in shock and grief over the loss of his wife, blurted out the statement: "I don't know whether this religion is the truth or not. Maybe this idea of a New System is just a fantasy." Adding insult to injury, after seeing the interview in the newspaper, the local elders disfellowshipped Toung without question. They called him on the phone and accused him of being an apostate.
Regarding point "2". JWs opposed vaccinations until 1952 and tissue transplants until 1980. [For details see Investigator 12 & 31]
After JW Leaders abandoned opposition to tissue transplants and made them a matter of individual conscience the rank and file accepted them. The journal Transplantation, for example, reported on Renal Transplantation in Thirteen Jehovah's Witnesses. (1988 June Volume 45 pp. 1045-1049)
A related problem is that the Leaders keep refining and even changing the rules regarding what blood-related treatment is O.K. Strict opposition to all blood components ceased about 1975. There followed increasingly complex guidelines as to what blood-products could be accepted. Such changes can cost lives when rank-and-file JWs are not up-to-date with the latest "truth".
For example, the "retirement age couple" in Table I [see below] were the subject of a letter to a newspaper:
Issues "3" and "4" I'll omit but recommend the book Indoctrination and Education (1972) I A Snook.
BLOODY DEATHS LIST – DISCUSSION
A blank in the "Reference" column of Table I represents news items sighted but which lacked the name of the item or date.
The list is partial. There are thousands of newspapers and magazines and most lack indexes. Even if all news reports about JW deaths could be found this would still omit all who did not come to the notice of reporters.
In Investigator No. 12 it's argued that four JWs have died needlessly in South Australia. Since SA has about 1/700th of all JWs worldwide a rough estimate is that worldwide since the 1940s about 700 x 4 =2800 JWs have died needlessly.
Since Investigator No. 12, possible 5th and 6th SA victims have come to notice – increasing the world estimate to 700 x 6 = 4200.
New Zealand has about 1/400th of all JWs worldwide. The table includes 2 deaths in New Zealand which, if there were no others, would give a world estimate of only 400 x 2 = 800.
Some anti-JW magazines estimate 6,000 needless JW deaths per year but give no calculation. We need more calculations of the above sort and based on cities, states and countries for which all JW deaths from blood loss are known.
Another technique would be to ask ex-JWs about blood-loss deaths in congregations they used to attend. If we sample 1000 ex-JWs we could work out the average deaths from blood loss per congregation and multiply this by the number of congregations worldwide.
Another point is that the rejection of a transfusion is often only a contributing cause of death. The JW is sick or injured in the first place and often survival is only a probability even with a transfusion. For example, one entry in Table I says "3 to 15 dead". This refers to cardiovascular surgery on 542 JWs during a 20-year period:Three of the 51 deaths in this series related directly to blood loss, and postoperative anemia contributed to 12 others. (1979 Yearbook of Anesthesia p. 190)Tables I & II incorporate information from the Internet site WATCHTOWER VICTIMS MEMORIAL
Table 1 lists referenced deaths – reported in newspapers and magazines – and includes many not listed on the web site.
Table II lists unreferenced deaths – obtained by the web site creator via e-mail and correspondence. I've deleted deaths by suicide as these are a separate topic.
Table II could be extended by searching in anti-JW magazines. TIDBITS (2000 Oct/Nov), for example, says:No blood transfusion rule continues to take lives. Domenica Asciutto died delivering her first child after refusing a potentially life saving transfusion. (p. 10)
1 year ago, JW Thomas Branco while moving his disabled car was hit by a DUI driver. He said "I am a JW, I don't want blood under any circumstances" doctors were unable to save him. (p. 8)
TABLE 1 Referenced Deaths
|ADA, A Emily 61||Australia, SA||The Advertiser (South Aust.) 1978 June 13|
|ALSON, John 47||USA, California||The Modesto Bee 1992 August 16|
|ANDERSEN, Dan 15||Denmark||Ekstra Bladet 1996 January 25; w1996 2/1 15|
|Baby boy||England, Sheffield||Sun-Herald 1960 March 20|
|BIFFLE, Lysa||USA, New York||The New York Post 1989, December 27|
|BLANCHET, Frank 49||USA, California||News Press (Santa Barbara) 1998 May 21|
|Boy 15||Canada, Manitoba||The Times 1958 December 15|
|BROWN, Anita 25||USA, Nevada||Contra Costa Times 1980 June 25|
|BUDD, Leonard 21||Canada, Saskat.||Died 1979? Press report in Questions for Jehovah's Witnesses (p. 30) W & J Cetnar|
|BURKE, Christopher 47||England||The Sun 1989 January 19|
|CANLE, Elihu 2||Spain||Alternativa 2.000 March-April
Cambio 16, 1994 October 3
|Child||USA||Houston Chronicle 1995 November 18 p. 42A|
|CHRISTIAN, J F Mrs 28||USA, Arizona||Arizona Republic 1968 March 9|
|COOK, Laurie 33||USA||Dayton Daily News 1994 May 17|
|COOK, Wyndham 15||South Africa||Awake! 1991 August 22 p.15|
|CROCKFORD, Kelsey 2||USA, Texas||The Houston Chronicle 1995 November 18|
|CRYNES, Mavis 70||Australia, QLD||Gold Coast Bulletin 1989 April 26|
|CULL, Ronald G||Australia, QLD||Sydney Truth 1957 September 15|
|CYRENNES, Sarah 12||Canada, Ontario||Globe and Mail (Toronto) nd. Died 1980 June 17|
|GALIAN, Catalina 27||Spain, Cartagena||Cambio 16 1994 October 3|
|GANGI, Lucia 12||Australia, VIC||Died 2/89. Sydney Morning Herald 1992 March 25; Telegraph Mirror 1992 March 25|
|GELEFF, Nicola 35||England, London||The Advertiser (South Australia) 1991 March 23|
|GODLEVSKAYA, Elena 17||Russia||Kievskie vedomosty 1998 September 25|
|Girl 13||Germany, Berlin||The Watchtower 1971 September1 p.531|
|GRENCI, Cathy 34||Canada, Ontario||The Toronto Star 1996 May 26|
|GROOTJES, Emily 19||England||Daily Mirror 1996 September 24|
|HOOD, Brendon 4||USA, California||Press report reproduced in Danger At Your Door (1987) D Magnani p. 70|
|HUMPHRIES, Eliza 37||England, London|
|HUNT, Brian 49||England, London||Daily Telegraph 1992 August 28|
|IOANNIDES, Tully 18||Australia, Brisbane||Herald Sun 1998 December 23; The Australian 1998 December 22|
|JACKSON, Betty 24||USA, New York||Press report reproduced in Danger At Your Door (1987) D Magnani p. 70|
|JAUDON, Lora 29||USA, New Jersey||The Record pp. A1 & A12 nd. Died 1989 April|
|JEHU, Stephen 2 days||Australia, SA||Melbourne Truth 1959 May 23|
|JOLLEY, Ada, J E 61||Australia, SA||The Advertiser (South Aust.) 1978 June 13|
|KENNETT, Daniel 15||Canada, Ontario||The Globe and Mail 1986 June 14|
|KOEHLER, Minel 19||USA, Minnesota||Pioneer Press 1992 April 29|
|KORINEK, Bill||USA, Utah||In: We Left J Ws - A Non-Prophet Organiza-tion (1979) E C Gruss. Died 1957 July|
|KOSACK, Lisa 12||Canada, Ontario||Awake! 1994 5/22 p. 14|
|Kumuko 15||The Watchtower 1995 1/15 7|
|LAWSON, Audrey 31||Canada, Alberta||The Vancouver Province 1987 December 9|
|MAINZ, Dina 24||Denmark||Ekstrabladet 1996 10/21|
|MATTHEWS, Beverley 33||England||Guardian 2000 January 20|
|Man||England||The Advertiser (South Australia) 1979 Jan. 8|
|Man 47||USA, California||The Modesto Bee 1992 August 16|
|Man||Spain, Gerona||El Periodico 1993 September 17|
|MAINZ, Dina 24||Denmark||Ekstrabladet 1996 October 21|
|MANGIONE, Joanne 30||USA, New York||Buffalo News Sunrise Edition 1990 Dec. 7|
|MARTINEZ, Lenae 12||USA, California||Awake! 1994 May 22 p.10|
|MAURER, Eleanor 31||USA, New York||The News (SA) 1979 September 21;
The Boston Herald 1979 September 19
|MORGAN, Dan||1975 Yearbook of J Ws p. 224. Died 1957|
|Mrs E J 55||Canadian Medical Ass. J 1961 May 27 p. 1189|
|Mrs M C||Canadian Medical Ass. J 1961 May 27 p. 1188|
|MUSCARIELLO, Samuel||1975 Yearbook of JWs p. 223 Died 1949|
|NIELSEN, Doreen 49||USA, Ohio||Plain Dealer (Cleveland) 1992 May 9|
|No name 44||Sunday Mail (South Aust.) 1975 June 1|
|ORTEGA, Juan 38||USA||Miami Herald 1988 August 31|
|"other Jehovah babies"||Australia, NSW||The Sun 1960 March 25|
|PASSLEY, Herma 27||England||The News (South Aust.) 1975 March 16|
|PELZEK, Robert 22||USA, Wisconsin||In: I Was Raised a J W (1997 edition) Joe Hewitt p. 127. Death 8/1968|
|PEOPLES, Minnie 35||USA, Rock Hill||The Charlotte Observer 1999 June 25|
|PERRICONE, John 3||USA, New Jersey||The New York Times 1961 March 5|
|PERROTA, Angelique 3||New Zealand||Aukland Times 1996 August 17|
|PEYTON, Ms.||Discover 1988 August|
|PICKUP, 57||Australia||Insight (TV program) 1991 March 7|
|POOLE, Thomas 37||USA, Florida||Miami Herald 1991 March 7|
|RAMSEY, Mark 27||USA, Florida||Miami Herald 1985 February 21|
|RAPLEY, Siman 30||Australia, QLD||Unreferenced newspaper 1996 10/3|
|RATTENBURY, Kevin 14||USA, Michigan||Plain Dealer (Cleveland) 1991 Aug.|
|Renata 14||Brazil||The Watchtower 1982 August 1 p.22|
|Retirement-age couple||USA, San Antonio||Mount Forest Confederate 2000 March 8|
|RIBERAS, Judith 14||Spain, Zaragoza||El Mundo 1994 September 17|
|RICKETTS, Gary 23||England||TV Quick (London) 1992 November 7-13|
|SIERRA, Mrs M L||Spain||Alternativa 2.000, No. 3 July-Aug. 1990|
|SMITH, June M 23||Australia, WA||The Advertiser (South Aust.) 1975 Jan. 9|
|STEVENS, Avril F 24||Australia, SA||The Advertiser (South Aust.) 1965 June 8|
|STRATON, Kim 33||USA, Kentucky||Courier-Journal 1981 July 19|
|SULKYE, Carol 26||Canada, Ontario||Toronto Star 1982 January 20|
|TEENEY, Susan 27||England||TV Quick (London) 1993 July 31|
|THAMES, Cedric 23||USA, Florida||The Orlando Sentinel 1992 August 14|
|TRUONG, John 24||Cox News Service 1989 July 8|
|VALLAS, Marcos 13||Spain, Zaragoza||El Mundo 1994 September 17|
|Vietnamese woman||USA||Paul Blizzard web site 1996 April 16|
|WALKER, Joshua 16||Canada, New Brunswick||The Daily News (Halifax) 1994 October 6|
|WALTER, Irene 2||Austria||Awake! 1972 September 22 pp.17-21|
|WARNER, Bridget V 21||USA, Florida||The Morning Call 1986 April 28|
|WILLIAMS, Charles 33||USA, Michigan||The Boston Globe 1981 August 9|
|WILSON, Dianne, L 27||Australia, SA||The News (South Aust.) 1985 January 30|
|Woman 18||Australia||The Lancet 1990? Volume 336 p. 1075|
|Woman 26||Australia, Qld.||Herald Sun 1998 December 23 p. 5; The Australian 1998 December 12|
|Woman 44||Australia, SA||Sunday Mail (South Australia) 1974 June 2|
|Woman||Ellice Islands||1971 Yearbook of JWs p. 131|
|Woman 39||New Zealand||The Advertiser (South Aust.) 1960 May 18|
|Woman 83||Norway||Dagbladet 1995 October 26|
|Woman 62||USA||Journal of Abdominal Surgery 1967 June p. 161|
|Woman||USA, California||Awake! 1992 September 22 p. 12|
|Woman 20||USA, Illinois||JAMA 1990 September; Register Star (Illinois, Rockford) 1990 September 6|
|Woman 88||USA, Los Angeles||SF Sunday Examiner & Chronicle 1982 Oct. 3|
|Woman||Aust. Melbourne||The Advertiser (SA) 2000 July 28|
|Woman||Zambia||Times of Zambia 1997 September 26|
|YEATTS, Adrian 15||Canada||Awake! 1994 5/22 8|
|24 youngsters||Awake! 1994 May 22—count on front
Note, three are named in this present list.
|3 to 15 dead||USA||JAMA 1977 September 19 p. 1256-1258|
TABLE 2—Unreferenced Deaths
|NAME||AGE||PLACE||DATE OF DEATH|
|BAZOWSKY, Alexander||5||New Brunswick||1989 July|
|BRANNAN, Devon||30s||USA, Ohio||1986|
|BROOKS, Kelly||USA, Michigan||1984|
|BROWN, Jared||10?||Canada, Ontario||1989|
|CLAY, Barbara||78||USA, Mississippi||1997 September 6|
|CONROY, Estella||50+||USA, Missouri||1990 September 3|
|CRABTREE, George||USA, Michigan||1966|
|GONZALEZ, Nelida||55||Puerto Rico||1992 November|
|GRANVOLD, Judy||38||USA, California||1985 May|
|HARTLEY, Michelle||23||USA, Florida||1983|
|JAUDON, Lora||29||USA, New Jersey||1989 April|
|MACDONALD, Donald||27||USA, California||1985 May|
|MENDEZ, Tony||USA||1995 June 6|
|MIRANDA, Ernie||30s||USA, New York||1989 December 27|
|MOODY, Arvid||68||USA, Massachusetts||1978 June|
|PARKER, Buck||1 day||USA, New York||1986 February 11|
|SAMPLE, Elizabeth||57||USA, Michigan||1988 May|
|SCHULTZ, Tammy||26||USA, Oregon||1995 May 24|
|SWISHER, Walter||37||USA, Indiana||1994 May 6|
|WILLIAMS, Mary||41||1971 November|
|woman||USA, Chicago||1997 November|
|woman||USA Chicago||1997 December 18|