Jehovah's Witnesses are a Christian religion who have been a part of the Christian community since around the year 1879, when Charles T. Russell first began a Bible study group in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA.
Russell and his group rejected many of the teachings of mainstream Christianity, and began to try to reconstruct the pattern of first century Christianity. While the path of truth they were seeking, was not necessarily an entirely straight path, some of the original teachings of Russell were later rejected or refined by Russell's successor Joseph F. Rutherford, the basic tenants that Russell and his early associates have remained the same over the past 130 or so years.
Jehovah's Witnesses and Medicine
Jehovah's Witnesses do not reject medical treatment. Their magazine Awake! frequently presents articles and ideas on medicine and health, and most of it is mainstream.
Only in the area of blood transfusions do Jehovah's Witnesses diverge. They interpret the Bible passages in the book of Acts, and throughout the Bible, as requiring true Christians to literally, "abstain from blood". To the Witnesses, this includes both animal blood, as did the early Christians and pre-Christian Jews, as well as human blood. Human blood should be respected as belonging to God, in the Bible teaching that Jehovah's Witnesses refer to, and so they refrain from human blood transfusions.
On the other hand, the firm position of the Witnesses on the matter of blood transfusions, opened the door for a new avenue in medicine, "bloodless medicine," or, bloodless surgery. Bloodless medicine has made such advances in the United States and other developed countries, that all operations can be performed with equal or greater safety using bloodless surgery techniques and technology, on both Witness and non-Witness patients.
Witnesses receive higher quality medical care, and have a lower mortality rate when receiving operations, that for the same operation when blood transfusions are applied.
Jehovah's Witnesses and Medical Decisions
Jehovah's Witnesses are not a strictly controlled religion, as some claim. Rather, they have freedom of choice in medical decisions, psychological services, and all medical matters, with the exception of blood transfusions, are a matter of individual conscience. Even some areas involving blood transfusions are a matter of individual conscience for all Jehovah's Witnesses.
Witnesses are encouraged to study the Bible, pray about matters, and make conscientious decisions, rather than look to rule books or others for answer to personal decisions.
While Jehovah's Witnesses do take their form of Christianity seriously, they encourage members to use their God-given powers of reason in making decisions, including medical decisions.
They are not a strictly controlled group, and they openly publish their teachings, practices and beliefs, which are open to public scrutiny. Their meetings, assemblies, as well as their world headquarters, is open to the public, and all are welcome (and invited) to attend or visit.