The Son Needed Blood, So What Did the Father Do? May 5, 2010

The Son Needed Blood, So What Did the Father Do?

Five-year-old Jepheth Afum was brought to a hospital in Ghana last week. Doctors found that he was anemic and losing blood quickly.

They knew the only way to save him was to give him a blood transfusion, so they began the procedure. And what did his father do during all this?

….Wait! Before you respond, I should tell you his parents are Jehovah’s Witnesses. And JWs forbid blood transfusions…

[Father] Kwabena Afum and some members of Jehovah Witnesses besieged the theatre room in a bid to prevent them from carrying out their professional duties.

The police, upon hearing the story, rushed to the place to restore law and order and arrested the boy’s father in the process.

The father wanted to see his son die than for him to get a blood transfusion.

But the story gets even worse.

The boy got better.

So his father disowned him.

The son is “currently in the care of the Social Welfare Department in the district.”


This is almost as bad as radical Islamic fathers whose daughters get raped and, in response, they perform an “honor killing” on the girl.

What is it that we hear religion is all about again? Love?

Yep. That’s it. Love.


(via The Freethinker)

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  • i don’t know if you’re fond of science fiction or if you’ve ever watched babylon 5…?

    ‘believers’ is a good episode about this issue:

  • rbray18

    in a sad way this may be the best thing to happen to the kid,maybe but doubtfully the kid will grow up un-indoctrinated and able to think for himself,unlike his father.

  • I was just about to post the same Babylon 5 link as toomanytribbles. It’s almost exactly the same story.

  • pa2rick

    I’m relieved that the father only disowned the boy — at first glance, I read the key sentence as “So his father DROWNED him”. Sadly, the latter would not have surprised me at all, given the depths to which such crazies will sink.

  • At least his father did one thing right by abandoning his child to the care of someone who is capable of caring for him and doesn’t represent a danger to children.

  • It is interesting (but not always funny) how some religious people will latch onto one bible verse (like Acts 15:20 that vaguely mentions avoiding blood) while completely ignoring another (like Matthew 6.6 about saying you should pray in private, not in public).

  • Bob

    Some additional notes on that Babylon 5 episode can be found at the Lurker’s Guide to B5, an all-round good resource, since it includes comments by J. Michael Stracynzski.

  • There is a person I work with that happens to be a Jehovah’s Witness. I told him about this story and asked about his thoughts on it. He emotionally responded, “That’s not true!, that’s false!” Surprised, I was like, “what do you mean, what’s false about it?” He said, that’s a “freethinker website for one, so it is biased, two, Jehovah’s Witness’s wouldn’t disown him!” So I showed him the constancy of the story from many sources, still he didn’t believe it. He said he too, would be against the blood transfusion, but if the doctors did it anyway, he wouldn’t and couldn’t disown his child. Not because of personal preferences, but because according to him. Jehovah’s Witness’s are obligated to take care of their family.

    Personally, I think it is crazy that parents would impose some action upon their child that is a direct result of their religious beliefs (not the child’s) that is risky to their child’s life. The child is only 5 years old. He can’t possibly be a Jehovah’s Witness. He is too young to believe in such nonsense unless he has been indoctrinated. And if he is not a Jehovah’s Witness, than he has no obligation to not accept blood transfusions. Just because his parents are Jehovah’s Witness it gives them no right to infringe a risk to their son’s life. This is no different than the religious who don’t take their child to the doctor and pray for them instead.

  • Jonny Angel

    @UnfriendlyAtheist: Your cow-orker is using the Not-True-Scotsman logical fallacy. Good luck with that.

  • brent

    child is better off. this is not a story about religion. it’s a story about a maniac who used religion as a cover for being a psychopath.

  • Deiloh

    I left the JWs because of a similar incident. The kid died and the congregation congratulated the parents for their strength. I was so revolted, I haven’t been back since.

  • Ann

    This reminds me of an episode from Babylon 5:

    Actually most of these kinds of stories remind me of that episode from B5, but this more so than most because the father actually reacted to his son having the medical treatment by disowning him.

    I watched this episode when I was 12 or 13. A few months later, I head some news report where real life human kids were in the same situation with their zealous parents. It was one of those things that helped me along to questioning religion which ultimately led me to become an atheist years later.

  • alex

    That’s just vile. I’m sure there can be many good things found with this incident, such as the kid is in better hands now, at least he is alive, etc., but the mindset of the father is horrifying. We let people like that vote and operate machinery.

    Jeff P:

    That seems to be the most recognizable fundie’s signature — hypocrisy.


    I’m sure that colleague of yours never puts sugar in his porridge, either.

  • Ann

    I typed my comment before I read the other comments. Looks like toomanytribbles and others beat me to it. =)

  • He said, that’s a “freethinker website for one, so it is biased

    I hate when people say this.

  • Epiz

    Brent: You’re wrong, this is descriptive of the exact problem of religion: It makes people believe unreasonable, stupid things which causes them to behaving in an illogical and often crazy manner. A depression portion of the populace will say that we should respect his religious views despite it almost killing a child and if it were any non-religious person they wouldn’t get the same ‘out’ like a religious person does.

    I’ve known a few JWs in my time and they could, potentially, be nice normal people except their religion fosters these bizarre ideas that have no connection to reality. In the same way that if one person said they believed they had an invisible friend that talked to them they would be tossed in therapy but if millions worldwide believe in the same invisible friend it’s a religion.

  • liz

    =[ poor baby, i hope he is better off now. I mean, sure he’s not with the father who would have let him die…but that doesn’t mean he won’t get placed in a foster home that treats him right.

  • Killer Bee

    Every one of these JW’s will admit that they sin every day of their lives and for venal purpose.
    So, why is this rule so crucial to obey? At worst, it’s just 1 sinful act to go along with the other 365 per year.

    Unlike losing your temper, lusting, cursing, etc. this one actually saves a life. The Bible says that ALL acts of disobedience are sinful but forgiveable.

  • Hybrid

    “What’s the harm?”

    Here you go…

  • JJR

    There was a Star Trek TNG episode that touched on this kind of theme as well, but I forget the title.

  • Bob


    You may be thinking of an episode penned by Peter David, which Strazcynski mentions in his notes, but only by way of defending himself from the ‘You ripped off Trek!’ crowd.

  • In Canada, the courts step in at the request of the doctors. The courts have held that a minor who they believe fully understands and comprehends can make their own decision, but for other minors, the courts order treatment. Religious people don’t have a right to impose their beliefs on me; what makes their children any different? They are clearly not looking out for the child’s best interest, so the kids should be removed.

  • Epistaxis

    Since everyone keeps mentioning that Babylon 5 episode, seems prudent to point out you can watch it for free on Hulu:

    My understanding is the writer was sick of seeing children on sci-fi shows, so just for spite he introduced a kid in this episode and… well, you’ll have to watch it to see what happens.

  • Tizzle

    I hate this subject. I have no idea how to talk about it. Back when I was a JW, I hated when people would a) find out my religion and b) ask difficult questions. But this was never a personal issue, so it didn’t make a difference in my life. I did have non-threatening bloodless surgery though. I have one friend who constantly tells everyone new we meet that I used to be a JW, as if it is still a huge influence. So annoying. Except for the occasional story like this one, generally I like to think of them as “Mostly Harmless” from HHG. At least they don’t vote. If I hated them as much as some ex-JW do, I wouldn’t have a family. So I just ignore, same as I did back then. Ok, no point in this comment, just rambling. Ugh.

  • Regarding honor killings by Muslims, that isn’t a completely Islamic thing but has cultural elements as well. There are cases of Christians engaging in honor killings also. However, many of the Muslims who do them seem to think it is a religious obligation. The upshot is that the distinction between religion and culture isn’t always so clear cut.

  • BlueRidgeLady

    This is a case of extreme child abuse, in my opinion.

    I don’t understand where the line is drawn. Why go to a hospital at all? Why not pray to get better? I am glad they didn’t, I am just saying if some things are ok to go to hospital for and blood isn’t one of them, what about shots? Tests? MRI?
    This type of thinking is archaic and should be embarrassing.

    Best thing to ever happen to the poor child with a parent like that. That is disgusting.

  • inmyhead9

    That is just so sad. I am sure that this story will be discussed on free thought radio saturday. 🙁 Poor kid.

  • I have made an appointment to go and give blood this afternoon in memory of all the children killed by their parent’s stupid religious beliefs! You should too!

  • What would jesus do indeed.

  • Tim

    Lucky kid.

  • Sean

    This is sad, to say, a poorly written article. The sources regarding their faith were poorly selected and therefore erroneous. The focus should have been on the reason why transfusion was indicated in the first place. Why was the boy bleeding in the first place? It does not sound like an emergency, so why not use less risky methods of treatment? If he was hemorrhaging, how did they stabilize him? If he IS stable, his body would naturally reproduce the lost blood in a short time. So again, why such risky treatment, when there is no emergency? A simple blood-volume expander would have provided immediate short term benefits and is 100% safe. The comment about the father abandoning the son is ridiculous. If even parts of the story are true, then the son was taken away in order to transfuse him. This must have been very upsetting to the father and son, as it would to anyone who wishes to have safe medical treatment. No Witness would abandon a 5 year old.

    This is a good example of poor reporting. Jehovah’s Witnesses have a department which is available to all doctors world-wide 24 hours/day. You will find they are very well-informed on the subject.

    In America, there are many hospitals which are replacing the use of blood with non-blood techniques. There is less risk and lower cost. It may be worth it to you to inform yourself further on this subject for the benefit of your reader’s health. (see )

  • Sean sez “The focus should have been on the reason why transfusion was indicated in the first place.”

    In other words, “let’s take the focus away on the nutty parts of the JW theology and question a commonly accepted life-saving medical practice”.

  • Natty

    @Sean – I like the way you attack the article for being ‘poorly written’ and then say “this does not sound like an emergency” when it clearly says that doctors knew the *only way to save him* was by transfusion.

    You list a bunch of stuff doctors could have done other than transfusion, but without knowing the specifics of the case you can’t know whether they would be appropriate. The doctors on the scene at the time determined that the most appropriate treatment to *save their patient* (a doctors imperative) was a transfusion.

    This is not the first story of a JW parent trying to prevent a child having a *lifesaving* transfusion.

    And finally, listing the Watchtower as somewhere where people might educate themselves on less risky healthcare techniques merely lays your motives and intentions in posting completely bare. Jump to the defence of the faith, call the facts of the story into question and then supply your faith based literature as an ‘informative’ alternative. Nice try.

    @ UnfriendlyAtheist: ‘He said, that’s a freethinker website for one, so it is biased’
    Please tell me you laughed out loud at that comment! LMAO

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