Transfusion refusal was ‘difficult situation’

The Master of the Coombe Hospital, Dr Chris Fitzpatrick, has said he and the hospital faced an unprecedented decision last year, when a young woman refused a blood transfusion after suffering a massive haemorrhage.

Dr Fitzpatrick said he was put in a difficult situation after the then 24-year-old woman, known as Ms K, told doctors she was a Jehovah’s Witness and was objecting to the transfusion.

She suffered the haemorrhage after giving birth to her son on the 21 September 2006 and lost around 80% of her blood.

But he said he had no doubt that giving Ms K a transfusion was the correct medical decision.

Jehovah’s Witnesses and Blood

“[T]he Jehovah’s Witnesses organization prohibits the use of blood transfusions. Individual Jehovah’s Witnesses are expected to die or let their children die, rather than break this command, even though the Scriptures nowhere teach that blood transfusions are wrong.”
Four Dangers of the Jehovah’s Witness Organization

Ms K received the blood after the hospital obtained a High Court order allowing the transfusion to go ahead.

Dr Fitzpatrick said that in the early hours of the following morning, Ms K told him she did not regret the transfusion.

He said the woman had been registered as a Roman Catholic on previous visits to the hospital.

He said it was unprecedented in his experience of dealing with patients from the Jehovah’s Witness faith, to be told of objections just before a transfusion was due to be administered.

Dr Fitzpatrick said he had spoken to Ms K a number of times and told her that she may die if she was not given the transfusion.

He said she said ‘no’ several times and at one stage that she suggested he give her ‘coke and tomatoes’ as an alternative treatment.

He said the hospital had a number of concerns about her capacity to give an informed consent to the transfusion.

He said there were linguistic difficulties, her objections were given through a friend, Miss F, who was also a Jehovah’s Witness.

He said she had previously registered as a Catholic and had not told the hospital she was a member of the Jehovah’s Witness faith.

He said her husband was in the Congo and was uncontactable and he feared she did not appreciate the seriousness of her condition at the time.

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Religion News Blog posted this on Thursday October 4, 2007.
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