It isn’t difficult to find stories of Jehovah’s Witnesses who were willing to die, or willing to let their children die, rather than receive a life-saving blood transfusion. Here an ER physician tells about an interaction he had with the family of a severely injured young man.
It was around that time that his parents showed up and informed us that the patient was a Jehovah’s Witness and would not accept blood products under any circumstances. Even if that meant his death. They were adamant on this point even after I explained that we were not in hypothetical territory any more — that his injuries were quite life-threatening and the blood loss might be the factor that caused him to die. They were firm and well-prepared and even showed us a piece of paper signed by the patient, fairly recently, expressly refusing blood transfusions.
The author expresses his frustration at this state of affairs, and his contempt for the beliefs that brought it about. I share his feelings, but I disagree with his analysis of the situation:
[The parents] valued some abstract, imaginary fantasy of the afterlife and their idiosyncratic reading of scripture over the real, actual living, breathing son whom they had loved and nurtured for two decades.
Yes, but this isn’t a fantasy to them. Given the option between a relatively short, relatively miserable current existence and an eternal life filled with happiness, the latter is a great choice. The problem isn’t, as the author implies, that the family has messed up priorities. The problem is that they believe things about reality that are simply false.
Image source: makelessnoise