A judge in Sydney has ordered a Jehovah's Witness teenager to take blood
A judge in Sydney has ordered a Jehovah’s Witness teenager to take blood

Last week a teenage Jehovah’s Witness in Sydney lost his bid to refuse a blood transfusion after a court ruled that staff at the Sydney Children’s Hospital should be allowed to give him the treatment.

The 17-year-old is a cancer patient with Hodgkin’s disease, and doctors warned him he had an 80% chance of dying unless blood was administered.

Justice Ian Gzell first ordered that the boy be treated with blood back in March, but he immediately appealed against the decision. So determined was the boy, referred to as “patient X,” that he told doctors he would rip the IV out of his arm if forced to have a transfusion – which he compared to rape.

A video discussing the case shortly before it was settled is shown below…

As you will see from the above video, much of the dilemma surrounding this case involved the fact that patient X is only 17 and just a few months away from being legally free to refuse treatment. But Justice Gzell recognized that preserving the boy’s life and getting him to his eighteenth birthday was the main consideration. “The sanctity of life in the end is a more powerful reason for me to make the orders than is respect for the dignity of the individual,” he said.

Free will, or coercion?

It was also noted that although patient X was an intelligent teenager and a “mature minor” who was devoted to his faith, he had also been “cocooned in that faith” for his whole life. This raised the question of why the boy was refusing the treatment in the first place. Was he truly expressing his free and independent will, or was he under some form of coercion?

I may be able to answer that question.

The quote attributed to patient X, that he would consider any attempted transfusion as rape and rip the IV from his arm, was eerily similar to sentiments expressed by another teenager in an Awake! magazine printed nearly ten years earlier (bold is mine)…

“On the fourth day of the trial, Lisa gave testimony. One of the questions put to her was how the forced midnight transfusion made her feel. She explained that it made her feel like a dog being used for an experiment, that she felt she was being raped, and that being a minor made some people think they could do anything to her. She hated seeing someone else’s blood going into her, wondering if she would get AIDS or hepatitis or some other infectious disease from it. And chiefly, she was concerned about what Jehovah would think of her breaking his law against taking someone else’s blood into her body. She said if it ever happened again, she ‘would fight and kick the IV pole down and rip out the IV no matter how much it would hurt, and poke holes in the blood.’

The above quote is taken from page 12 of the May 22 1994 Awake! magazine. It relates to the trial of Lisa Kosack, a Canadian Witness teenager who went to court to stop doctors from giving her blood. Given the similarities in testimony between her and patient X, it seems highly plausible that this experience was related to patient X, perhaps to influence his thinking and suggest how vehemently he should refuse treatment.

There was, however, a notable difference in outcomes between patient X and Lisa. You see, Lisa’s judge was so swayed by her emotional refusal of blood that he denied the application for a forced transfusion and allowed her to abandon her treatment and leave the hospital.

Lisa later died at home with her parents.

During her trial, an attorney asked Lisa, “do you want to die?” To which she replied, “No, I don’t think anybody wants to die, but if I do die I’m not going to be scared, because I know that I have the hope of everlasting life in a paradise on earth.”

A shameful magazine cover

Lisa’s photo was featured along with those of two other Witness children who died refusing blood on the front cover of the same Awake! magazine that related the events leading up to her death. The magazine’s headline was “Youths Who Put God First.” It is likely that the other 23 smiling youths pictured in the background of the cover illustration were also victims of Watchtower’s no-blood policy, but this is nowhere clearly stated, nor are the youths named.

blood-awake-1994Only a few weeks ago this website reported on the case of a baby in New Zealand who was similarly ordered to receive blood by court intervention. I argued in that article that the Witness ban on blood transfusions is not only wrong and unnecessary, but can even be considered contrary to scripture.

The trouble is that Witnesses are so deeply indoctrinated by Watchtower into believing that the ban on blood represents God’s wishes that they applaud sickening articles like the one above, in which the organization went so far as to brag about prematurely ending the lives of innocent children.

JW youths are trained by their parents to strenuously resist treatment with blood
JW youths are trained by their parents to strenuously resist treatment with blood if pressed by doctors

I can remember only too well when I was once swayed by such propaganda. I even recall being shown the above magazine by my parents as a teenager and practicing things to say (very similar to those said by poor Lisa) if I ever found myself in a situation were I was urged to take blood.

It brings a lump to my throat that my name could so easily have been added to the deathtoll, since I was determined to fight to refuse blood if it came to it – no matter what. I’m sure many Witness readers will relate to my experience, and will have similar stories of their parents coercing and training them to refuse treatment. Frankly, the danger we were in as Witness youths, and the price paid by some of our peers, is almost too much to contemplate.

I can only console myself with knowing that doctors and judges are anxious to preserve the lives of Witness children even if the Governing Body couldn’t care less. It is unlikely that we will ever learn what becomes of patient X, and I wish him all the best. But if he ends up living a long and happy life he will have Justice Ian Gzell and his doctors to thank, and certainly not the Watch Tower Society.


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Further reading…

18 thoughts on “Court orders Sydney teenager to accept life-saving blood transfusion

  • October 2, 2013 at 10:38 am

    Accepting blood is comparable to rape would be to repeat exactly what the society says in their publication hence they is no originality of statement but a recital of what the society says. HENCE indoctrination of a teenager by a cult, with fear driven rejection or ultimate shunning over-rides logical thinking even by the parents. The state should therefore think for the indoctrinated parents and child reaches adulthood. If after the child life is prolonged to age 18, thereafter both child and parents are still not satisfied with the state’s decision, then they are both free to do what they want to do to get rid of the bad blood the state so infused.

  • October 2, 2013 at 10:46 am

    One thing I’ve noticed in talking to many JWs is that nearly all of them only parrot what the WT has already said. They cannot express their own views because if they are “wrong”, they could get talked to by the elders.

    When I was a witness I loved to comment at meetings. And I never stuck to the paragraph. I kept to the topic being discussed, but refused to stick to the words on the page . I can’t tell you how many times I got talked to about this. Sometimes I wouldn’t even get called on. Someone giving a verbatim answer from the paragraph only would usually get a lot of praise.

    So I’m not surprised that this guy did this. I guarantee you that if this was pointed out he would have benn socked, thinking that they really were his thoughts and feelings. Mind control is an ugly ugly thing.

    • October 2, 2013 at 10:59 am

      Exactly; only eight (8) men have brains everyone else is a dumb jackass that puts their brain into a recital auto mode.If you dear think and utter such then you are indeed an apostate or you are a critical thinker and should be at all means avoided. So then you see why you shouldnt go to college or university because you are somewhat trained to be a logical thinker. So now realize that the meat you were getting is not meat at all but instead a highly flavoured piece of …t

  • October 2, 2013 at 12:01 pm

    The only publicity those goons (the JW bosses, at whatever level) ever issue to the media about transfusion refusal is unconvincing twaddle about the superiority of non blood treatments. It is all part of the plan, like the bland boring rooms, tunes and clothes, as opposed to gorgeous buildings, robes and music, to try and convince themselves and the outside world, that the JWs are modern and rational, as opposed to mediaeval and superstitious.

  • October 2, 2013 at 12:09 pm

    If only people were not afraid of the reprecussions of accepting blood, i still have not found true biblical reason to deny a blood transfusion. I have had 4 people whom I was close to pass away because of the “blood issue” including a friend who had cancer and needed a bone marrow transplant, but he would not get on the list after the elders convinced him it was the same things as getting a blood transfusion. Another person that died was DF’ed when they denied the transfusion and left a infant child. I may have surgery soon and as many risks there are having a tranfusion if need be i know i will have one.


  • October 2, 2013 at 1:06 pm

    Shameful organization!! Where does comparing accepting blood and rape comes from:
    1) English
    *** km 11/90 p. 6 par. 36 Are You Ready to Face a Faith-Challenging Medical Situation? ***
    You could reply:
    • “If blood is forced on me in any way, it would be the same to me as being raped. I would suffer the emotional and spiritual consequences of that unwanted attack on me for the rest of my life. I would resist with all my strength such a violation of my body without my consent. I would make every effort to prosecute my attackers just as I would in a case of rape.”

    2) French
    *** km 11/90 p. 6 § 36 Êtes-vous prêt à affronter un problème médical qui mettrait votre foi à l’épreuve? ***
    Vous pourriez répondre:
    • “Si d’une façon ou d’une autre on m’administrait du sang de force, cela reviendrait à me violer. Je souffrirais émotionnellement et spirituellement de cette agression pour le restant de mes jours. Je résisterais de toutes mes forces à un tel viol de mon corps. Je ferais tout mon possible pour attaquer mes agresseurs en justice, comme je le ferais si on me violait.”

    3) Kinyarwanda (Ref: km08 08-YW Rw vol. 55, No 8)
    Ushobora gusubiza uti:
    • “Ndamutse ntewe amaraso ku gahato mu buryo ubwo ari bwo bwose, kuri jye byaba bisa no kumfata ku ngufu. Ibyiyumvo byanjye byahungabana kandi nkagira ibibazo mu buryo bw’umwuka bitewe n’icyo gikorwa cy’urugomo mba nakorewe. Nakoresha imbaraga zanjye zose kugira ngo icyo gikorwa cy’urugomo kidakorerwa ku mubiri wanjye kandi ntabyemeye. Nakora ibishoboka byose kugira ngo nkurikirane abo bantu mu nkiko kimwe n’uko nabigenza hagize umfata ku ngufu.”

  • October 2, 2013 at 2:30 pm

    The May 94 Awake you have posted about sickens me. To think that WT would exploit these poor kids who are now dead because of WT policies.

  • October 2, 2013 at 3:21 pm

    Who has told them it is “rape” if a medical procedure is administered. Only the hierarchy who are more concerned about their precious (false) doctrine than the lives of all the people concerned. Anyway the resultant negative publicity certainly does their cause no good and just alienates the public further. It is all a terrible shame but shame on the hierarchy and shame on those willing just to accept blindly anything that is fed them.

  • October 2, 2013 at 4:36 pm

    Acts 15:29, the Scripture they use to support their stance on the refusal of blood transfusions, is actually speaking about the eating and drinking of blood of animals that were sacrificed. Blood transfusions were non-existent during Bible times. Is the symbol of life-blood-more important that what the blood is supposed to symbolize-life?

  • October 2, 2013 at 10:09 pm

    We just have keep in mind that we are not dealing with the/a society of the God of the Universe, but of the Society of Jehovah of the Watchtower…

    Now, who of you can recall how we, once a year, and during Theocratic Ministry School, had to listen to a parroted little snippet from the podium that instructed and refreshed our collective memories about this blood-issue, and then meticulously made sure in the presence of the elders that all our details are correct on our “blood-card”?…

    Point is, it has been proven over and over that the god of the WTS is something totally different from the REAL God (irrespective what you want to call Him/Her/It) of the vast Universe of Universes. I have not lost faith in God, just gained a clearer understanding (and still does) about Him as a real Father who is not vengeful or authoritarian in comparison what we have always been taught via the so-called F&DS.

    And lastly, for now, we must keep in mind that it was Knorr and his backup man, Freddie Franz, who all of a sudden popped up with so-called new light during the 1950’s as regards this horrible blood issue.

    Thank’s again for a wonderful assessment of the situation, Cedars. Let the people know the REAL truth…

  • October 3, 2013 at 6:54 am

    I can’t even begin to tell you how sick the cover of this magazine makes me feel. They talk about how “Jehovah” does not take pleasure on human sacrifice yet this is exactly what has happened. Sickening!

  • October 3, 2013 at 7:32 am

    Again another fine balanced article dealing with a flawed policy. As previously mentioned in acts 15 God was talking about the blood of Animals. Of course if you were to take the animal blood into your body then there could be some consequences of doing so such as rabies etc. And of course God in his infinite wisdom and foreknowledge new this to be so. In fact having worked in a meat department cutting animal meat I have seen plenty of residual blood in the packaging of the meat. So when you cook the meat to at least 165 degrees at the core you are destroying any bad bacteria that could cause you complications. If one spent time really researching the animal sacrifices and the draining of blood one would then see that God only limited it to animals only. It is the WTBS and their Governing Body who goes ahead of the word of God by Making this death dealing rule of no blood transfusions. Don’t you think God who predicted many prophesies that came true in the bible would see the advances of medical science that would occur in our time? So would he have not made mention specifically for humans not to partake of human blood? Does it not really stand out how far this organization wants to be unique even at the cost of letting people die? When we use our logical God given not man made Conscience then it becomes ever so clear that the God who made us would want us to do anything to try and preserve our life. I have seen so many JW’s take a foolish stand on their health because of such doctrines as the no blood policy. This mentality filters down to their day to day eating habits and seeking proper health treatment. Why you ask? Because their minds are brainwashed to think that way by this society. Such as verbiage in the watchtower and awake “Since mankind and this old system of things is passing away then why would we want to TRUST anything they tell us” What! Trust only the Governing Body and die! How many false predictions has the Watchtower made in its some 130yrs of existence? I think I would rather take my chances with a life saving blood transfusion. With the advances in medical science the blood supply has never been safer. It is all propaganda on the WTS to be exclusive from the other religions of the world. All traits of a cultic society.

  • October 3, 2013 at 7:45 am

    Thank you, John Baptist – I just LOVE the clear-cut and logical reasoning you use in addressing this sad matter. Very well reasoned :)

  • October 3, 2013 at 7:56 am

    How should one view child sexual abuse? Is this not similar to rape (even if no penetration occurs, as with a needle injecting blood)? Children in the tower are expected to endure this treatment, without vindication or any sort of protection… Yet we will go to court to prevent a life-saving medical treatment, on the grounds that it will violate a child’s body?

  • October 3, 2013 at 8:40 am

    Happily when we signed the blood cards and the ID cards for the kids I knew that here in the UK a court would order them to have blood, it was a kind of relief to me that the decision was not mine to make.

    However now, I am divorced and d’fd my ex as a jw has all the power to appeal if anything happened to my son. My eldest is an adult and can thankfully make her own choices now she is out.

    Good news that a 17yr old can be ordered by a judge, the uk will probably be similar thankfully

  • October 3, 2013 at 11:08 pm

    “avoid blood” “Beware of Human Apostates!” Watchtower says.
    The determined of the boy to “avoid blood” sounds he believes all blood comes from APOSTATES which is true as WTS teaches all other religions are “apostates” and all ex-jws are “apostates” so, there is no pure source of blood!!

    Some Reference:
    Though claiming to believe in the Scriptures, the leaders of Christendom taught religious lies—“teachings of demons” that dishonored God (http://wol.jw.org/en/wol/l/r1/lp-e?q=w12+8%2F15+p.+4+par.+3).

    Let us therefore have nothing to do with apostates […] This should be the case even if he is a family member. (http://wol.jw.org/en/wol/l/r1/lp-e?q=w12+5%2F15+p.+26+par.+13)

  • October 23, 2013 at 9:24 pm

    And don’t you think it’s selfish, abusive and hypocritical to take blood fractions from donated blood without giving blood to save others? It is like a family sharing their food with you at a time of crisis but when they are starving you keep all the food to yourself

  • December 18, 2015 at 12:46 pm

    My mother told me when I was a child that she would let me die rather then give me a blood transfusion. Of course my mother was and still is a Jehovah Witness.

    At the time my feelings were hurt and I was appalled by this. I am I adult now with three children of my own. I am not a Jehovah Witness and if my children needed blood transfusion in order to survive I would give my child the blood transfusion. Why? Because I love my children more then anything and I want them to live. Comparing blood transfusion to rape?

    I’ve been raped.

    There is no comparison.

    All I know is that I would NEVER let my child DIE. And when my mother told me she would let me DIE because she would see me in PARADISE? That did not make me feel loved. That made me sick to my stomach and I hoped every moment that I would NOT be involved in a accident that caused me to need blood because I did not want to die.

    That is all I have to say on the subject. I’m quite sure many witnesses would be very offended by this but frankly…

    I don’t give a poop.

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