Woman bled to death after refusing transfusion

This is London (England), Apr. 4, 2003

A young woman died after refusing a vital blood transfusion through religious beliefs days after giving birth at Whipps Cross Hospital.

Patience Edema, a Jehovah’s Witness, 24, died three days after giving birth to her second daughter, on Tuesday, October 24 last year, from complications after an emergency hysterectomy an operation to remove the womb.

At an inquest into her death at Walthamstow Coroner’s Court, coroner Elizabeth Stearns said Mrs Edema, of Grange Park Road, Leyton, died from “post-operative complications for which she refused medical intervention, namely, a blood transfusion.”

Mrs Edema, who was seven and a half months pregnant and had suffered two previous miscarriages in her home country of Nigeria, arrived at Whipps Cross for a routine appointment with her husband Omatseye on Friday, October 17.

After a four hour wait they were seen at midnight by a doctor who said she would have to be admitted because of rising blood pressure and possible pre-eclampsia.

Mrs Edema gave birth to her baby daughter through an emergency caesarean section on Monday, October 21 after doctors become concerned with her rising blood pressure, and had diagnosed her with pre-eclampsia. They were also worried about the small size of the baby in the womb.

There were no complications with the caesarean section, which undoubtedly saved the baby’s life, and mother and baby were doing fine under the close observation of hospital staff.

Early on Tuesday morning, Mrs Edema started to show signs that she was not well. The doctors noticed she had not passed urine, a fact her husband had pointed out six hours after she had delivered the baby.

Doctors became concerned that her face, feet and hands had started to swell and phoned her husband to alert him that she could be bleeding internally.

Before the emergency hysterectomy was carried out, the couple were advised by doctors that a blood transfusion would be necessary and could make the difference between life and death.

However, they both said no and a form was filled out to say no blood products were to be used during treatment because of their religious faith.

After the surgery Mrs Edema was placed on a dialysis and a life support machine in the intensive care unit, where she died on the Thursday at 12.40am.

In a statement recalling the events that led up to his wife’s death, Mr Edema said: “I am now left alone on a strange terrain to cater for my two daughters as a single parent. All my wife’s ambitions and inspirations have been nipped in the bud. Can my life be the same again?”

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Religion News Blog posted this on Friday April 4, 2003.
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