Man sues over unwanted transfusion

Connecticut Post/February 25, 2009

Bridgeport - A Jehovah's Witness being treated at St. Vincent's Medical Center was administered a blood transfusion despite his explicit request not to be given that procedure, which violates his religious beliefs.

Hospital officials admit that Andrew Geyer, 47, of Fairfield Avenue, was given a transfusion last year, and apologized.

Geyer is not placated, however, and filed suit against St. Vincent's, claiming he fears he may contract a blood-borne illness.

"St. Vincent's promptly apologized to Mr. Geyer and made immediate improvements to its procedures to prevent this from happening to anyone else," said Noreen McNicholas, director of marketing for the hospital. "There was a proper medical reason for the transfusion, but we acknowledge the patient should not have received it because of his beliefs. The blood supply is very safe, but we are confident that a patient's wishes concerning blood transfusions will be honored."

In the lawsuit Geyer filed in Superior Court, he said he has suffered extreme emotional and physical trauma as a result of the transfusion. In addition to the transfusion being a violation of his beliefs as a Jehovah's Witness, Geyer said he is concerned that he might contract a serious illness in the future as a result of the treatment, the lawsuit states.

"Mr. Geyer was admitted to the hospital for treatment of a foot injury and made the doctors and staff aware that he would not consent to a blood transfusion because it was against his religious beliefs," said Geyer's lawyer, Ikechukwu Umeugo, of West Haven. "But not only did they ignore his wishes, they gave him the transfusion after he had fallen asleep."

According to the lawsuit, Geyer was admitted to St. Vincent's last Aug. 27 for treatment of an infection in his left heel. After he was admitted, Geyer signed a document on which he stated he did not want to be treated with any blood products or blood transfusions. The following day, according to the suit, during a consultation with doctors, Geyer reiterated his refusal to have a transfusion, and a notation of his refusal was made in his hospital chart.

The suit states, however, that on Sept. 1 doctors and hospital staff gave Geyer a blood transfusion as he was sleeping.

"He woke up, saw what was going on and began crying nonstop," Umeugo said. "As a result, he has had to go see a psychologist at his own expense, and he lives in constant fear of blood-borne diseases."

Umeugo said he has consulted with two doctors who said the transfusion was not necessary.

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