"You shall not eat the blood of any creature, for the life of every creature is its blood" (Lev. 17:14). This is just one of the several scriptures found in the bible from which the Jehovah Witnesses base their beliefs. To summarize the above excerpt, Jehovah Witnesses strongly believe that contributing to the health of their bodies by way of any type of blood material is not intended by God’s will. However in dire cases, ethical questions need to be raised regarding the patient’s mental capacity and legal competence. In particular cases concerning minor patients, where mental capacity is accounted for, parents should not have the dominant opinion about how their child wants to receive surgery based on their own personal beliefs.
The hospital was presented with a difficult decision to make concerning a particular case involving a minor Jehovah Witness. A fifteen year old girl was brought in to the emergency room after being the subject of an automobile accident. There are four options the doctor can consider: refusal of the surgery, perform the surgery without blood considering the parent’s wishes, perform the surgery with blood respecting the decision of the patient, or complete the surgery with blood and do not inform the parents.
When asking whether or not parents should make the decision for the child in this case, concerns could be raised as to if the patient is endangered by their own parents. When a parent is basing a lifesaving decision on religious beliefs that the patient might not even reciprocate, is the parent looking out for the child or their religious reputation? In this particular case, the patient’s surgery would be a low-risk and high-benefit procedure and the patient expresses her wishes in favor of the blood transfusion despite her religious beliefs. On a farther note, who is to say that this child has religious beliefs?
As a doctor, to prepare myself to take on this case I would have to process a substantial amount of information and use my best judgment to conceive what the best plan of action regarding this case should be. Reviewing the four key principles in medical ethics: nonmaleficience, beneficence, respect for autonomy, and justice, would prove to be very helpful. After reviewing and consulting with my peers I would most likely conclude that the patient is the one receiving the service and is to be put first above all other factors contributing to the situation.
According to the first principle, nonmaleficience, it would not be appropriate as a professional to practice medicine based on his or her own beliefs and not consider the patients feelings about the operation. In this particular case, regarding religious constrictions the doctor must decide if the patients’ needs outweigh the ethical belief of nonmaleficience. Asserting empathy in this case could prove to be a problem. How does a person wholly understand the beliefs of another when they have not been exposed to those beliefs and...