Impacts of the Refusal of Blood Transfusion by the Jehovah's Witnesses – Medical Ethics Example

Download free paperFile format: .doc, available for editing

"Impacts of the Refusal of Blood Transfusion by the Jehovah's Witnesses" is an impressive example of a paper on medical ethics.   The seventeen-year-old woman is a committed follower and member of the Jehovah witness fellowship.   This is evident when it comes to administering her treatment. She has succumbed to leukemia and needs an urgent blood transfusion. However, as we soon come to realize, her church doctrines forbid blood transfusion but allow any other mode of treatment (Holland, 2007). It is my responsibility, as a member of the ethics committee to reason with all the concerned parties and comes into a workable conclusion.

Patients must be treated with respect irrespective of age. It is also needed that the hospital staff exercise patience and be sensitive to the concerned patient’ s needs, values, and cultural beliefs. Despite having the agency to save the life of the patient, it is also necessary to follow the laws on human rights and freedoms (Holland, 2007).                       The American laws recognize and acknowledge the refusal of blood transfusion by the Jehovah witnesses. Competent adults have the legal right to refuse to have blood transfusion carried out on them even if the outcome results in death.

Annually many deaths are recorded of the Jehovah witnesses who opt for death instead of having blood transfusion (Holland, 2007). In the case study, the parents of the young woman support her making it even harder to convince her to save her life and take up the blood transfusion option. The patient is aged seventeen and is therefore not of age to make a decision on herself.                         As it is, the constitution stipulated that only aged eighteen and over are allowed to make independent decisions.

However, in reference to a similar case study of San Joaquin county human services agency Vs. a Minot aged sixteen (Holland, 2007). The Minor was diagnosed with sickle cell anemia and was instructed by the court to undergo blood transfusion in a bid to save his life. He, however, opposed the court ruling with the advice of his parents and his church beliefs.   The court thereafter concluded that such a ruling was wrong and would only be passed on Minor’ s dependent on the court (Lo, 2009).

The ruling was lifted as the court failed to meet the requirements of the welfare and institutions code section 369. Section 369 stated that the necessary medical care would be imposed on a minor if and only if, the Minor’ s custody is entrusted to the court and if the Minor’ s parents were incapable of offering such medical attention (Holland, 2007).                       The Minor in San Joaquin human services agency case therefore would not be subjected to the court ruling as the court had defiled section 300 petition, which declared the Minor dependent on the court (Lo, 2009).

As it is, the juvenile court had no rights to subject the Minor to its jurisdictions. Likewise, in our case, we cannot force the patient to undergo a blood transfusion against her cultural and religious beliefs (Lo, 2009).   She is well aware of all possible outcomes including death and can therefore make independent decisions regarding her health.                       Nevertheless, if the parents of the patients were in disagreement with the patient’ s decision to forgo blood transfusion, the situation would be a lot more different.

This would be because the patient is legally considered as still dependent on her parents until she becomes of age (Lo, 2009). Consequently, her parents have the right to decide what is best for her regardless of her standing. In such a case, it would be wise for her parents to let her undergo a blood transfusion and save her life.


Holland, S. (2007). Public health ethics. Cambridge, UK: Polity.

Lo, B. (2009). Resolving ethical dilemmas: A guide for clinicians. Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer Health/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

Download free paperFile format: .doc, available for editing
Contact Us