Monday, January 11, 2010

Facing the Blood Transfusion Issue As Parents

This experience is of a former missionary family in Cuenca, Ecuador, (pgs 238-240 of the 1989 Yearbook). This couple dealt with a very difficult situation as parents, in regards to the blood issue, after their daughter was in a life-threatening accident, at a time when medical professionals were largely unaware of JW's position on blood transfusions.

(Former missionaries, Bob & Joan Isensee and children)
“Mother, I Can’t Die Yet”
Bob and Joan Isensee, former missionaries, chose to rear their family in Cuenca. While Mimi, their 10-year-old daughter, was playing at school one day, she was crushed beneath the wheels of a loaded dump truck. She was rushed to a clinic. Desperate efforts were made to save her life. When her anxious mother arrived, Mimi was still conscious and whispered: “Mother, I can’t die yet. I haven’t even conducted a Bible study!” And of her own accord the child told the nurses that she did not want any blood used in treating her. This was the clinic’s first experience with Jehovah’s Witnesses. And it proved to be an unforgettable one.

The doctor arrived. He said an operation would be necessary to determine what damage had been done internally. The father explained that this was quite all right, but “No blood, please, because the Bible forbids the use of blood in any form!” (Acts 15:28, 29) The doctor was shocked. Never before had he been faced with an operation as serious as this with the request that blood not be used. The father said that this was his responsibility as a parent and not the surgeon’s. He would accept full responsibility for the outcome. The only thing he asked was that, without violating God’s law on blood, the doctor do all he could to save the child’s life.
With humility the doctor replied: “Since I have my own religious beliefs and want others to respect them, I will respect yours. I will do what I can.”

Just before being wheeled into the operating room, Mimi said to her father: “Don’t worry, Daddy. I have already prayed to Jehovah.”
More than five long hours passed. During that time many people who knew the family or had heard of the accident came to the clinic and waited for the results. Meanwhile the parents were explaining to them that if their child should die, they had the assurance of seeing her again in the resurrection. What effect did this have on the others?

Remarks like these were heard: “I am a father too and know what it means to lose a child; but you show more calmness over this than I would.” Another said: “If I could have faith like these people, I would be the happiest man alive.” A next-door neighbor, whose husband had died some time before this, came to console them and went away comforted herself. She said: “For two years, since the death of my husband, I have been depressed; but seeing you and your faith in God and the hope you have has enabled me to find happiness for the first time.”

But what about the child? Finally the long operation ended, and the anxious parents approached the doctor to get his report. Very serious damage had been done to the internal organs. The artery to the diaphragm had been cut and more than half of her blood was lost. The liver had been lacerated in several places. Because of the tremendous pressure, the stomach had been forced right through the diaphragm. The truck had stopped just short of bursting the heart.
The doctor said that he appreciated the calm attitude of the parents, as this had enabled him to begin the operation in a much more steady frame of mind. Mimi recovered in short order, much to the elation of everyone. The entire experience resulted in a tremendous witness as news spread throughout the city of Cuenca. The radio station spoke about the outstanding faith and tranquillity of the Isensee family. A prominent doctor told the father: “You should know that this case is referred to as a real miracle among the men of the medical circle.”