On March 4, 2002, Leland Thomas a resident of Fulton County Georgia was severely hurt and hospitalized due to an auto accident.
Thomas, 19, had been raised within the Jehovah's Witness sect and baptized at 16.
His injuries included a lacerated liver, a broken left femur, a ruptured spleen, a torn aorta and bruised lungs.
Thomas was airlifted to Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta where he initially received three units of blood.
His parents Willie and Tanya Thomas, devout Jehovah's Witnesses did everything possible to prevent their son from receiving additional blood.
Jehovah's Witnesses believe taking blood transfusions is a sin. It is prohibited by the religion even in cases medical emergency, when without transfused whole blood a Witness will certainly die.
Many Witnesses have died needlessly rather than accept blood.
The parents claimed their son, who remained unconscious, would not have wanted blood transfusions.
The couple claimed that he carried a document stating this, though no such document was found on his person or at the scene of the accident.
The Thomas's went to court and their attorney argued, "Leland Anthony Thomas' incapacity did not negate the cherished beliefs, values and goals that were at the center of his life."
The hospital to initiated legal action through a petition, when it became clear the boy's parents would not grant permission for their son to receive blood.
Superior Court Judge Bensonetta Tipton Lane granted the hospital's petition on March 6, 2002 and noted that the teenager was "extremely in need of blood transfusions."
But despite continued transfusions, Leland Thomas never recovered. On March 7, 2002 his parents agreed to turn off a respirator and their son died almost immediately.
Note: This news summary is based upon the article "Parents: Son Would Have Chosen Death Over Blood," written by Richmond Eustis, published by Fulton Country Daily Report, April 15, 2002