Faith issues and treatment for immunodeficiency

Individuals who have immunodeficiency come from many diverse cultural and religious backgrounds, and the care they receive should respect that.

Please contact us if you would like to help us expand this section of the website to cover your faith.

What should be considered?

There are many issues concerning your healthcare that should be respected with regards to your faith or none. These include:

  • attitudes to healthcare staff and illness
  • religious practices
  • diet
  • fasting
  • washing and toileting
  • ideas about modesty and dress
  • death customs
  • birth customs
  • family planning
  • blood transfusions, transplants and organ donation.

Spiritual care should be provided for in an equal manner, for those who have faith and for those who have no faith. Most trusts or health boards have spiritual and religious care as part of a chaplaincy team, who should be expert on managing patients from multi-faith communities.

Solid organ or bone marrow transplantation

For many of faith or without, the issue of transplantation (solid organ or bone marrow) is a matter that requires extensive counselling and support and whilst not specifically prohibited by many faiths, may be problematic for many individuals. In those faiths that respect a need to bury the body whole, transplantation may not be acceptable, particularly from the donor perspective. Healthcare professionals can provide help and support with these considerations.

Blood and plasma donations and treatments derived from these tissues

Here we cover how different faiths need special consideration.

Jehovah’s Witnesses

For blood and plasma donations, Jehovah’s Witnesses may carry on their person an advance medical directive/release that states they must not receive blood transfusions under any circumstances, while releasing medical practitioners and hospitals from responsibility for any damage that may be caused by their refusal of blood.

When entering the hospital, a Jehovah’s Witness should sign consent/release forms that reiterate this and specify the hospital care needed.

Jehovah’s Witnesses’ religious principles do not absolutely prohibit the use of minor blood components such as albumin, immunoglobulins and haemophiliac preparations. Each Witness must decide individually whether he or she can accept these. This usually requires a conscience discussion with the patient’s family and/or elder. While forbidden to take blood, Jehovah’s Witnesses are not specifically forbidden to take in tissue or bone from another human. Healthcare professionals can help with these considerations.

Information on Jehovah’s Witnesses’ beliefs was endorsed by a PID patient of that faith (July 2013). Reviewed August 2022.