Op-Ed: Would the Jehovah's Witnesses leadership accept artificial blood?

Posted Nov 18, 2011 by JohnThomas Didymus
It was announced recently that after years of research a blood substitute has been developed. The search for blood substitutes arose from need to relieve shortage of blood for transfusion and to reduce risk of infections from transfusion of human blood.
File photo: A surgical team from Wilford Hall Medical Center, San Antonio, Texas, performs ear surgery.
Photo by John Asselin, U.S. Air Force
New Scientist reported that the major technical challenge was developing a blood substitute that will not trigger rejection mechanisms in the human system. Researchers were also interested in developing blood substitutes that would not need to be kept cold making it easy to move to remote areas, disaster zones and war torn areas.
New Scientist reported that recently, a company developed a blood substitute MP4, which contains hemoglobin molecules coated with polyethylene glycol. A trial involving 20 patients in Sweden produced promising results. Other tests with pigs also gave promising results.
Slate, on November 17, reported that early in the week, a blood substitute was successfully transfused into a volunteer, although the amount transferred into the volunteer was very small, "about 10 million red blood cells, or 2 milliliters of blood."
According to Slate, a researcher speaking to New Scientist, said: “The results show that an unlimited blood reserve is in reach.”
Slate then raises the question:
"Would Jehovah’s Witnesses, who famously refuse to accept transfusions, permit the medical procedures if the blood came not from a man but from an artificial source? Would permitting artificial a good compromise [for the Jehovah's Witnesses]?"
It seems very likely that the governing body of the Jehovah's Witnesses would be very happy to accept artificial blood as compromise given the pressure it has come under in recent times to review its position on members receiving blood transfusion. One can anticipate a sigh of relief among many Jehovah's Witnesses when blood substitutes become widely available.
But how soon would blood substitutes be available for patients worldwide? It seems certain that there are thousands if not millions of Jehovah's Witnesses looking forward to opportunity of option of blood substitutes.