Pals of pretty Emma Gough told last night how the devout Jehovah’s Witness cuddled her newborn twins — then died just hours later after refusing a blood transfusion.
Shopgirl Emma, 22 — whose life could have been saved after complications set in — ticked a form before the birth insisting she should not be given blood.
Medics begged husband Anthony, 24, and other members of Emma’s family to overrule her after she suffered severe blood loss and began slipping away.
– Four Dangers of the Jehovah’s Witness Organization
But because Jehovah’s Witnesses are barred from having transfusions they refused — insisting the young mum would not want to betray her principles.
Stunned friends last night described her grieving husband — a fellow Witness who has been left to bring up the motherless twin boy and girl — as distraught.
Peter Welsh, 24, was best man at the couple’s beach wedding in Barbados two years ago. He said: “Everyone is devastated by what has happened.
“We can’t believe she died after childbirth in this day and age, with all the technology there is.
“What makes it even more sad is Emma had time to hold and start to bond with her twins before the complications set in.”
Yesterday shattered Anthony, a central heating engineer, was caring for the tots at his home in Telford, Shrops — as the local coroner’s office launched a probe.
He wed Emma, who worked at high street store Next, in December 2005.
Friends said the pair had been teenage sweethearts — and described Emma as a “bubbly modern girl, always full of life.”
She had been “ecstatic” to learn she was expecting twins. Emma’s mum Glenda and dad Jim — also Jehovah’s Witnesses — were at her bedside after she gave birth at the Royal Hospital in Shrewsbury.
She died in the early hours of October 25, a week last Thursday.
Yesterday grief-stricken Jim, 43, refused to comment.
Both sides of the family — including Anthony’s parents Sham and Ian Gough — closed ranks and remained tightlipped.
A woman relative mixing baby feeds for the twins at Emma’s home insisted: “We have nothing to say.”
Best man Peter — also a Jehovah’s Witness — said: “Luckily Anthony is part of a big family. They will all pitch in to help him bring up the twins.” But he added: “Anthony is in pieces.”
Part of the Jehovah faith says the Bible prohibits the “consumption, storage and transfusion of blood” and quotes the book of Acts.
Some Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that to have a transfusion is the same as consuming or eating blood.
A spokesman for the local Kingdom Hall, where Emma and Anthony worshipped, said: “This is a terrible time for the whole family.
“They are all grieving terribly. The entire Witness community is distraught and including them in their prayers.”
Friend Peter, of Sutton Hill, Telford, told how Emma’s dream had always been to marry on a Caribbean beach.
Loving Anthony organised the ceremony as a surprise.
Emma said at the time: “Anthony went ahead and booked it without telling me. You can imagine my surprise.” The excited couple exchanged vows in the tropical sun as a steel band played under palm trees.
Peter said: “Thirty guests, including both sets of parents, arrived a few days before the ceremony.
“A local minister was booked to officiate. Emma and Anthony stayed in separate rooms in the hotel because our faith strictly bans sex before marriage. The wedding was the happiest day of their lives.
“They were desperate for a family and no one was surprised to hear Emma was expecting not far into the New Year.
“It was no great surprise that Emma was having twins because they run in Anthony’s family every few generations.
“Emma was as happy as I have ever seen her and looking forward to the birth.
“Now it is up to everyone to rally round and look after Anthony and the twins,” A coroner’s office source confirmed: “We are investigating why she did not have a transfusion. An inquest will be held.”
Ban on blood is Bible ‘order’
Jehovah’s Witnesses are automatically declared outcasts from their faith if they have blood transfusions. They believe God forbids them from accepting willingly — and that to do so is a sin.
They say the proof is contained in Bible passages including Genesis 9:3-4, which commands: “Only flesh with its soul – its blood – you must not eat.”
They also quote from Acts 15:19-21, which says in part: “Abstain from. . . fornication and from what is strangled and from blood.”
All forms of transfusions are banned, even those in which a person has their OWN blood stored to be used in a future procedure.
Doctors have faced distressing moral and ethical dilemmas while treating Witnesses in life-or-death situations.
Believers can absolve medics of responsibility by signing forms or carrying cards which state they “categorically refuse” blood and are aware of the risks.
Many stars have become Witnesses including singers Prince and Michael Jackson, tennis sisters Venus and Serena Williams, Naomi Campbell and guitarist Hank Marvin.
There are about 6.5 million believers in the world, with 130,000 in the UK.
Witnesses believe the world is in its “last days” and that those who have been unfaithful to God will be destroyed.
They do not celebrate Christmas or Easter because they think both are based on pagan customs.