Distillations podcast

Deep Dives into Science Stories, Both Serious and Eccentric
April 5, 2016 Health & Medicine

Power in the Blood: When Religion and Medicine Meet in Your Veins

Blood is powerful, but it can also be dangerous.

Engraving of a man at a table with another man standing next to him giving instruction. On the table is a small animal and a series of tools with letter labels.

Everyone knows blood is powerful. The ancient Greeks realized it, Jesus understood it, Dracula certainly recognized it, and your doctor still knows it today. And everybody knows, says hematologist and historian of medicine Jacalyn Duffin, that if we lose a lot of blood, we’re going to die.

Jehovah’s Witnesses’ beliefs have led them to refuse blood transfusions—to the consternation of many inside the medical profession. But the religious group still wants medical care, says reporter Alex Ashley, and their advocacy has helped propel a new movement in medicine in which doctors perform surgeries without transfusing blood. Remarkably, it has turned out better for everyone, suggesting that religion and medicine might be less at odds than they sometimes seem.


Hosts: Michal Meyer and Bob Kenworthy
Guest: Jacalyn Duffin
Reporter: Alex Ashley
Producer: Mariel Carr
Associate Producer: Rigoberto Hernandez
Music courtesy of the Audio Network
“Power in the Blood” courtesy of Shiloh Worship Music

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