Mother dies after refusing blood transfusion

Telegraph, UK/November 6, 2007

A 22-year-old woman who gave birth to healthy twins died hours later after reportedly refusing to receive a blood transfusion due to religious reasons.

Emma Gough, of Telford, Shropshire, a Devout Jehovah's Witness, is said to have ticked a form prior to the birth of her twin boy and girl insisting she should not be given blood. advertisement

She died hours after suffering severe blood loss following complications from the birth.

A British tabloid newspaper reports that medics at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital begged Mrs Gough's husband Anthony, also a Jehovah's Witness, to grant his permission for the much-needed transfusion – but to no avail.

Mr Gough, a 24-year-old central heating engineer, reportedly claimed that his wife would not have wanted to betray her principles.

Mrs Gough, a retail assistant at high street store Next, died on October 25.

Adhering to a passage in the Bible which says "Keep abstaining … from blood" (Acts 15:28, 29), Jehovah's Witnesses are barred from giving transfusions – even if they are lifesaving.

Some believers are said to put receiving blood in the same bracket as consuming or eating blood. The collection, storage and transfusion of blood are all seen as sins.

Mr and Mrs Gough, who were teenage sweethearts, worshipped at the local Kingdom Hall in Telford. They wed in December 2005.

There are 130,000 Jehovah's Witnesses in the UK, with about 6.5 million worldwide.

Believers – who include model Naomi Campbell, singers Prince and Michael Jackson, and tennis stars Venus and Serena Williams – can absolve medics of responsibility by signing forms which state they "categorically refuse" transfusions and are aware of the risks.

A friend of the Gough family, however, told the BBC that doctors had said that a blood transfusion "wouldn't have saved Emma".

The Royal Shrewsbury Hospital will not comment on the case because of patient confidentiality.

An inquest into the death has been opened and adjourned, according to the coroner's department in Shrewsbury.

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