Man fighting Ind. hospital over blood transfusions

Associated Press/May 9, 2011

Jeffersonville, Indiana - A southern Indiana man says a hospital is giving his wife blood transfusions despite his religious objections.

Bruce Huff of Charlestown said he shares Jehovah's Witnesses' belief that receiving blood is a sin. Huff, 58, was baptized as a Jehovah's Witness but doesn't attend services regularly and doesn't consider himself a member.

His wife, Candy Huff, has been diagnosed with poly-pharmaceutical overdose, which means she was taking too many different types of medications. After she was rushed to Clark Memorial Hospital several weeks ago, he wrote a letter to the hospital, saying she shouldn't be given blood transfusions. "I love Candy. I told them to do absolutely anything to save her life except give her blood or blood products," Bruce Huff told the Evening News and Tribune.

The hospital petitioned a court to appoint someone else to make medical decisions for Candy Huff, saying Bruce Huff was unable to act in her best interest. The court appointed Candy Huff's aunt, and the blood transfusions continued, the newspaper said.

Bruce Huff said his religious beliefs prompted the hospital's action, but hospital attorney Pamela Thompson denied that.

"This situation was very, very unique," Thompson said. "(Religion) was not the substance or basis of the petition."

She said she could not elaborate due to privacy laws.

Thompson said this was the first time in her five years representing the hospital that she asked a judge to intervene in a patient's care. She said it would have been preferable for Candy Huff to have designated someone to oversee her care if she were unable to do so.

Indiana law establishes a hierarchy of who can make medical decisions. First is a judicially appointed medical representative. If there is not one, spouses, parents, adult children or adult siblings all have equal say. If they disagree, the court will decide who has the individual's best interests in mind, Thompson said. A religious superior also can make such decisions.

"The hospital always tries to look at the facts and circumstances and look at the families, all of the patient's rights and all of the family's rights," Thompson said.

Bruce Huff also said he wishes his wife had appointed a legal representative. Huff, who has Parkinson's disease, said he and his wife always took care of each other and he wants what is best for her.

"I know my wife better than anybody," he said. "She always wanted to do what is right."

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