What are the medicolegal issues concerning blood transfusion in the
JW who is a minor?
In circumstances in which the life of the JW
minor patient is in danger, the courts have intervened to permit blood
transfusions even though it directly opposes the reli-gious beliefs of the
parents. The procedure for obtaining consent to transfuse a JW minor patient
involves a petition to the judge to declare that the minor is a “neglected
child,” and the court appoints a guardian. Medical necessity for the blood
transfusion is presented by the physician. The appointed guardian can then
consent to the blood transfusion.
However, the court’s position has varied with
respect to elective surgical procedures and blood transfusion in a JW minor. On
the basis of religious grounds held by JW parents, some of the court rulings
have been in favor of their beliefs, while others have not been. Currently,
there is no consensus when it comes to elective procedures and blood
transfusion. The decision to transfuse or not to transfuse a JW minor for
elective surgery continues to be determined on a case-by-case basis.