Man died after religious beliefs delayed vital op
Aug. 22, 2004
ReligionNewsBlog.com • Monday August 23, 2004
A Jehovah’s Witness who went into hospital for a simple hip replacement operation died after developing a lethal deep vein thrombosis (DVT), an inquest has heard.
Fifty-six-year-old Peter Lay, a retired window cleaner, was admitted to Whipps Cross University Hospital in October last year and underwent surgery which provided him with a new hip.
Within a day of the operation, the ball and socket joint had come apart. Mr Lay, who lived in Manor Farm Drive, Chingford, was rushed back to theatre where doctors attempted to manipulate the joint back together.
When the attempts failed, doctors decided they would have to operate once again and open the hip up.
But, because of his religious beliefs which state that Jehovah’s Witnesses cannot receive blood that has previously exited the body, doctors could not perform the operation immediately as Mr Lay’s blood haemoglobin levels were dangerously low.
Walthamstow Coroner’s Court was told that doctors had no option but to allow nature to take its course and wait for one week while Mr Lay’s haemoglobin levels increased back to a level where operating would be safe.
In that time, Mr Lay contracted DVT after two blood clots, formed in his lower legs, travelled towards the heart. They eventually became lodged in a main heart artery which had fatal consequences when blood was no longer pumping from the heart to the lungs.
He eventually died of a pulmonary embolism, a blockage of an artery by fat, air, tumour tissue or blood clot, on November 11.
Coroner Dr Elizabeth Stearns described the sequence of events as a tragic vicious circle.
She said: “Mr Lay needed the exercise in order to prevent such a condition, yet could not possibly carry out that exercise because of his hip.”
Giving evidence last Thursday, consultant orthopaedic surgeon Thomas McAuliffe said Mr Lay’s blood haemoglobin levels had dropped to almost half that of the average man after blood loss in the first operation.
Any further blood loss, without the chance of blood replacement, might well have led to Mr Lay’s death.
Pathologist Suhail Baithun, who described Mr Lay as obese, gave cause of death as being a pulmonary embolism due to DVT.
Dr Stearns recorded a verdict of misadventure.
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