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“But we think it proper to hear from you what your thoughts are, for truly as regards this sect it is known to us that everywhere it is spoken against.”—Acts 28:22


What is the basis for refusing blood transfusions but accepting fractions?

Jehovah's Witnesses are known for their refusal to accept blood transfusions—as "Christians must 'abstain from . . . blood.'" At the same time, "Jehovah's Witnesses request nonblood alternatives, which are widely used and accepted by the medical community. We do this because of the Bible's command to 'keep abstaining from . . . blood.' (Acts 15:29; see also Genesis 9:3, 4; Leviticus 7:26, 27; 17:1, 2, 10-12; Deuteronomy 12:23-25.) "ftn1 It is also known that we accept fractions of the four components of blood, namely plasma, thrombocytes (platelets), leukocytes (white blood cells), and erythrocytes (red blood cells). Fractions of those four are acceptable according to the individual's conscience, "since the Bible makes no clear statement about the use of minor blood fractions." What is also acceptable according to the individual's conscience is "the immediate reinfusion of a patient's own blood during surgery, a medical process known as blood salvaging."ftn2

(Refer to Figure 1 for the percentage of the four main components defining blood and to Figure 2 for the basic position on blood held by Jehovah's Witnesses.)

Figure 1


Figure 2ftn3


That being the case, how can Jehovah's Witnesses harmonize their view of blood and what is or is not allowed by means of conscience with what the Bible has to say on the subject? Is it a rational view, or is it irrational? The following will be different yet related lines of thought that come together to mold the religious decisions on blood that we have formed.

First, one must appreciate that our view is one that is left up to the individual's conscience as to what they will partake of and what they will not and yet hold intact the command to abstain from blood. Is it possible to take blood, fractionate it to a certain level, and use it for human need without violating the scriptural command to abstain from blood? That is what the following will be addressing as best as possible within the scope of the following articles. Surely this will not cover every aspect of the subject, but it endeavors to address the aspects mentioned above as to whether a rational view can be presented to defend the belief that we have established toward accepting blood fractions below the cellular and whole plasma level and yet not be in technical or scriptural violation of abstaining from blood.

"In-Depth" presents articles that explore the history of abstaining from blood from Genesis to Acts, and how this has a direct bearing on Christianity. Appendix articles have also been prepared: the first focuses on the choice of consuming blood-products or not in a life-threatening situation—in the setting of what actually occurred in a Nazi concentration camp; the second considers the controversial issue of organ transplants in light of its historical and medical context, and the last one similarly addresses the related vaccination situation. Finally, please consider what Jehovah's Witnesses have officially published in response to various inquiries on this complex topic in "Additional Reading."

If you truly believe that the Bible is the unerring, inspired Word of God, and you are sincerely interested in knowing the truth of this matter from God's perspective, then please carefully consider the following detailed presentations with questions and answers.


  1. Law, Mercy, and the Question of Property by "Wrench"

  2. Pre-Law Society and the Apostolic Decree by "Wrench"

  3. "Abstain from Blood" – A Command or a Concession for Jewish Sensitivities? by "Wrench"

  4. "Abstain from Blood" – Noachian? Jewish? Christian? Or all of the above? The Underlying Principle by "Wrench"

  5. Blood: Point/Counterpoint by "Wrench"

  6. Abstaining from Blood by Al Kidd


  1. Ravensbrück and blutwurst

  2. The Position on Organ Transplants

  3. Were vaccinations ever prohibited?

Additional Reading


1. "Blood Transfusions." Our View of Medical Care. <> (italics added) You are cordially invited to visit that webpage for further information. (back)

2. "Blood Transfusions." supra note 1. For further information on blood and minor blood fractions, see Blood: Why So Valuable? <>, which appeared in the August 2006 Awake! cover series, and "Questions From Readers" in the June 1, 1990 and June 15, 2004 issues of The Watchtower (back)

3. A similar diagram entitled "Basic Stand on Blood" has been published by Jehovah's Witnesses. (back)

Printable version in PDF
  Cover page followed by 74 pages, with Additional Reading beginning on page 66.  

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Last revised: November 23, 2009. Copyright © 1997 by Jehovah's Witnesses—Setting the Record Straight. All rights reserved. This web site is not affiliated with or sanctioned by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society. However, every effort has been made to adhere to the current views published by the "faithful and discreet slave" (Matthew 24:45; Luke 12:42) through the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society. The "Official Web Site of Jehovah's Witnesses" can be found at, and should be recognized as the authoritative source about the beliefs, teachings, and activities of Jehovah's Witnesses.