Jehovah’s Witnesses accused of smuggling children to avoid transfusions

Did you ever wonder why Jehovah’s Witnesses can’t aceept blood transfusions? Turns out that in 1945, the Chuch basically decided a new interpretation of the Bible was needed, based on their belief that blood is reserved for the atonement of sin only (I guess they don’t know it carries oxygen and fuel to cells), and it is therefore a deadly sin to accept a transfusion, even if it saves your life.

You have to love religion. They just make shit up, and everyone else has to follow; no questions asked. It seems unimportant to the Church that such a rule would cause the death of so many of their own members (I mean, you might as well make taking antibiotics a religious offense too). It’s not a very smart move if you want your membership to grow, but that’s just me.

Here’s a story from the National Post that suggests the Church actively smuggles children away from hospitals to avoid court mandated blood transfusions. Donna Ryder is a former Witness who claims she smuggled children for the church, including one boy who was brought to Mexico for an alternative treatment that ended up killing him. She now feels remorse and has dedicated herself to exposing the Church for all the suffering they’ve caused.

The Church denies any involvement, but it’s not entirely difficult to see just why it might be true. They take a huge stance against blood transfusions, and considering it’s a sin that merits excommunication, is it really such a surprising accusation? I’m not sure if they are systematically smuggling children away from hospitals like Donna suggests, but something very fucking fishy is going on.

What angers me the most is these guys care more about following their stupid rules than they care about sick kids. What a fantastic religion! If you sign up now, you too can enjoy never having the benefit of a blood transfusion. They can’t really be that helpful, right?

(props to James for the link)

Comments (15)

  • avatar


    Pity that when they die they’ll have no chance to find out just how wrong they are.

  • avatar


    “What angers me the most is that these guys care more about following their stupid rules than they care about sick kids.”

    I don’t think you can really say that. Witnesses think that following their rules is the correct and holy thing to do, and that denying “unholy” treatment to a sick child will help ensure that he or she is resurrected by their god, either now or at the natural end of their life. They really care about their children, and following their insane rules are a means to this end.

    So they’re not evil, just dangerously ignorant.

  • avatar

    Jacob Fortin

    I didn’t suggest they are evil. I said only that they put their rules and interpretations above the welfare of people. The fact that they think they are saving lost souls doesn’t absolve them of wrongdoing. If I think I’m sending you to heaven by burning you alive, I’m certainly not absolved because i was “trying to do the right thing”

  • avatar


    What is so surprising??? ALL religions are batshit crazy and the only thing that counts is grown male and the religion. The woman based religions (wicca) are also batshit crazy but they have no real power anymore. Find a religion that is practiced, powerful, and not male-centric? So killing women &/or kids is no big thing. Jews-Xtians-Islam are all the same basic religion and we know they all kill lots of people. Maybe one of the eastern ones???

  • avatar

    Jessica Sideways

    Well, I think Christianity has grown past the point where it is just about the money. I mean, it was when it was a desert cult and when it was incorporated into the Roman Catholic Church. But since the Protestant Reformation, Jesus, Inc. got split up into Catholic Corp, Lutheran, Ltd., Anglicans A.G., you get the idea. From a sociological standpoint, it would be interesting to see what Scientology is like 2,000 years from now. But not interesting enough to help it along since it has so many things in common with Christianity.

  • avatar

    Benjamin Geiger

    Can anyone give me substantial data regarding mortality rates due to blood transfusion versus mortality rates due to rejecting transfusions?

    The best information I have (straight from the horse’s, well, orifice; that is, the Watchtower) is that refusing transfusions adds 0.5% to 1.5% to mortality rate for routine surgery, while there is approximately one death for every 13,000 units of blood transfused. The question is then, how many units of blood, on average, are given to a patient? The closest thing I can find to a consensus is 2 units, making rejecting blood about 65 times more likely to result in death.

  • avatar


    Very interesting, sad, too. Just one thing.. JWs (& former JWs) don’t use the term “church” to describe themselves, their religion, nor their places of worship. “Religion” (or even “cult”) would be a more accurate & fitting term, for future reference. Still, kudos for shedding light on this!

  • avatar


    I don’t think you can take what they say at face value. Maybe rejecting transfusions does only add 0.5% to 1.5% to the mortality rate for surgery. But my guess would be that this is because almost none of them have the surgeries in the first place. I mean how much surgery can you even do without transfusion?

  • avatar


    I don’t know how it figures in proportion, but the raw number of people who have died because of refusal to accept blood is over 1,200, which officially makes the Watchtower Society deadlier than Jim Jones.

  • avatar


    Why is it ok for a double standard? They can commit a crime as long as its to protect their beliefs? Crime is crime, period. I personally know a family who did this and they are folk heroes in the religion. Its sickening. They sacrificed their child for an ass backward logic, bestowed on them by some mans interpretation as he saw fit of scripture. The brothers of this child mourn him to this very day, all of them leaving the religion behind and seeing just how wrong what their parents did was.

  • avatar

    Raven Pence

    When our 3-year-old daughter was mauled by a neighborhood dog, we were distraught, as any parent would be. But, as Jehovah’s Witnesses, we faced an even greater fear, beyond the trauma and scars introduced by the dog bites: What if she needed a blood transfusion? Our religious convictions mandated that we refuse. Her very life could be in danger, not from the attack, but from our beliefs.

    My mother, an insanely devout woman if ever there was one, immediately called the congregation elders (before even calling me, the child’s mother!), who met us at the ER, not so much to comfort us in a time of great distress, but to make sure that our blood transfusion refusal card, a document carried by all Jehovah’s Witnesses, was properly signed and recently filled-out. My husband, although very much a believer, was infuriated by this and told the elders that they needed to leave.

    Our daughter recovered without us having to refuse this routine medical procedure, and without significant scarring, but it remains in my mind as a seminal moment, the time I had to consider whether I could be like Abraham and offer a child sacrifice to the demanding Jehovah.

    It is a decision that many — hundreds? thousands? — Jehovah’s Witness parents have had to face. Many have not been so lucky as we were. I cannot imagine the pain a parent must feel, to have to decide to refuse needed medical treatment for their child. To have to fight the doctors, the courts, the state and child welfare services (depending on the jurisdiction) — ultimately to fight to be the enabler of their child’s death. And it is not just blood — the Witnesses have also religiously refused organ transplants.

    The Witnesses rejection of blood transfusions is not so simple. Certain blood fractions that occur in other parts of the body are permissible, or not, depending on the dictates of the individual adherent’s conscience. You end up with a complicated set of rules about various blood components that is frankly beyond the comprehension of most Witnesses, and that is a contradiction in itself. Whole blood is forbidden, while each of the constituent parts of blood could be allowed according to conscience. How one’s conscience could be ok with platelets, but not with white blood cells, is never really explained, yet the individual Witness is expected to make just such a call. Mix all of those components together, and add water, and it is back to the forbidden zone.

    To help you to understand all of this, and to fight the state in the courts, there are regional Hospital Liaison Committees composed of local elders with access to Watchtower lawyers. My husband was even briefly involved with an unsanctioned effort to collect a database of hospitals and doctors, recording their level of co-operation with past Witness efforts to refuse blood, so that members could be directed to more Witness-friendly facilities when an emergency arose. The Watchtower magazine spoke of the bravery of Witnesses who would rip out their IV’s and be smuggled down back stairwells to flee facilities that sought to force the blood transfusions on them. This, we were taught, was a tremendous show of faith. Even Witnesses who worked in the medical field and would reveal confidential medical information to the elders, so that those who were not faithful to the beliefs of the Witnesses in that regard could be punished, perhaps being expelled and shunned — they too were portrayed as heroes.

    Did I mention that the Witnesses beliefs on this, and many other issues, are subject to pretty much constant change? “New light,” they call it, claiming that God is progressively revealing more and better information to them. Oddly, or not, God’s new light seems to have a strong correlation to damages having to be paid out in lawsuits.

    How would I feel now, as a former Jehovah’s Witness, if I had let my daughter die? I would see my choice as the decision of a delusional, hopelessly brainwashed, mother that sacrificed her child’s life. I would see myself as a murderer, or at least see myself as being guilty of manslaughter. This is an issue of grave concern to those who have left the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Many of us have left family behind in that organization, and we feel like it’s our duty to put this back on the table for discussion.

    Beliefs change. People change. Death, not so much. Should it be legal to allow people to follow the fickle dictates of a religious sect, to refuse life-saving medical treatment, not just for themselves, but for their minor children?

    There was an “Awake” magazine article that came out when my children were still toddlers. It’s like a yearbook of the dead — child sacrifices. The cover photos makes me ill. This is so sad. I am just glad we were not Muslim, and that my daughter has all her womanly parts intact!

    This magazine was published to honor the children that remained faithful until death by refusing life saving blood transfusions and organ transplants.

    read more about this here:

  • avatar

    Rebecca S.

    Raven. Wow. First off, you are a brilliant and articulate writer. Feelings come freely from your heart as a mother, ex Witness, and human being. I’m an ex Witness, 40 yrs. old, who left when I was 15. Moved out of my house and lived on the street, numerous stories, as you can imagine. Family shunned me for YEARS. Now my brother and sister are both out, but the anger and hurt of their treatment is still blaringly present in my relationships with them. My mom is still in and remarried after my biological father died (an agnostic ex Catholic altar boy). He had kidney disease and was on dialysis for years. My little brother gave him a kidney and that was somehow ok at the time. He (my brother) was still a Witness at the time (I was out). I wrote a poem about this – I could not believe the little idiocyncricies that Bethel mandated that would allow yet another “loophole”. Bullshit and more bullshit.

    I close by saying I am so grateful your daughter is alive and that you escaped this sick crap! Thank you for sharing your story, it was so poignant and heartfelt.

    Take care,


  • avatar


    My mother converted to a Jahovah’s Witness 4 days before Christmas when I was in the second grade. My dad stayed only because he wanted to protect me from them and her. I am now in grade 11 and ever since I was a child, my biggest fear is that I will one day need blood. I am 16 and I am too scared to drive, because car accedents scare me too much. I know that if I was in the state that I needed blood, my family would rather fight with each other than do something. I’ve seen it happen before. I’ve also seen first hand, Jahovah’s Witnesses killing my grandfather. They put so much morphine into him after he had a stroke that it killed him. They wanted him to go to paradice. They thought it was his time, so they decided to play god for a day. The autopsy results stated that he had so much morphine, that his organs looked like that of a cocaine addict’s. I fear every day that my mother would rather let me die than save my life.

    My love goes out to all other children in my position. I don’t know if there is anyone else out there under the same circumstance as I am in, but if you are know that I will most likely never meet you, see you, touch you, or speak to you..but I love you. I know what you’re going through, but stay strong. For one may be many, but for many maybe one.

  • avatar


    If any read my comment above and want to get in touch with me about any problems they have with these issues, I’d be glad to help. When I’m older I want to help people, I want to become a psychiatrist. Something that my mother Jahovah’s Witness doesn’t agree with but hey, I never once agreed with her religeon change.

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