Canterbury DHB


Treating Adults who Decline Blood Products (including Jehovah's Witnesses)


Every competent adult patient has the right to decline medical treatment. Patients who make the informed decision to refuse blood products are not necessarily Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Jehovah’s Witnesses (JW) are a religious denomination founded in the United States in 1872 [1]. According to the JW Official Website’s Report of Jehovah’s Witnesses Worldwide there was a peak of 14 382 Witnesses in New Zealand in 2010, giving a ratio of one Witness to 305 people [2]. JW are the most rapidly growing religious group in the Western world and their numbers have doubled in the last 16 years [3].

JW generally do not accept transfusion of blood or its major components and some individuals are prepared to die rather than compromise this refusal [1]. With the exception of blood transfusion, JW accept and expect the highest standards of medical care and full use of appropriate modern medical technology [1].

Individual patients may have their own conscience-based interpretation of acceptable interventions and may allow transfusion of certain blood components in specific circumstances; hence they should be given the opportunity to discuss this in absolute medical confidence.



In This Section

General Principles of Treatment

Potential clinical situations that may be encountered when caring for patients who decline blood products

Checklist of Products/Procedures to Establish Acceptability

Flowchart: Elective Surgery in Patients who Decline Blood Products

Flowchart: Acute Bleeding in Patients who Decline Blood Products

NZBS Autologous Blood Collection and Transfusion

About this Canterbury DHB document (47836):

Document Owner:

Julia Czuprynska and Richard Seigne (see Who's Who)

Last Reviewed:

June 2019

Next Review:

June 2022


Note: Only the electronic version is controlled. Once printed, this is no longer a controlled document. Disclaimer

Topic Code: 47836