A Quebec coroner has found that the refusal of blood transfusions played a key role in the deaths of two Jehovah's Witnesses who died of childbirth complications last year.
Dr. Luc Malouin looked into the deaths of Mirlande Cadet, 46, and Éloïse Dupuis, 26, after they died in separate incidents at hospitals in Montreal and Quebec City.
Blood transfusions are forbidden under Jehovah's Witness doctrine, which holds that the Old and New Testaments command them to abstain from blood. Quebec law upholds the right of adult Jehovah's Witnesses to refuse blood as long as their decision is considered "free" and "informed."
In his report about Dupuis's case, Malouin pointed out that sometimes, doctors and medical staff find themselves in "untenable" situations.
"On the one hand, they have taken the oath to protect and save human life and, on the other hand, they have an obligation to respect their patient's freedom of choice, even if they know that ultimately that choice will kill them when a simple medical treatment could prevent that death."
Would rather die than receive blood
Dupuis died of multiple organ failure following major blood loss at Hôtel-Dieu de Lévis Hospital near Quebec City on Oct. 12, six days after giving birth. Her child, a son, survived.
Malouin said he consulted her medical files, and saw that from the beginning of her pregnancy, numerous conversations were had between her and the staff at a birthing centre in Saint-Romauld, a Quebec City suburb, about blood transfusions. Every time, she reiterated her refusal to receive one.
'Patients change their mind': In emergency, doctors say, law should let them give blood to Jehovah's Witnesses
Jehovah's Witnesses defend hospital visits that push for bloodless treatment
The report outlines at least 10 times where Dupuis, her parents or her partner, acting on her wishes, refused blood transfusions, including once when she told doctors at Hôtel-Dieu she would rather die than receive a blood transfusion.
Malouin determined the only thing that could have saved her life was receiving a blood transfusion.
Dupuis went into labour Oct. 5 and made her way to the birthing centre. Upon her arrival, she once again stated that she did not want to receive any blood transfusions or blood products on account of her faith.
Dupuis's son was delivered via caesarian section and survived the birth. (Cassandra Zélézen/Facebook)
Complications with the baby's health led to her being transferred to Hôtel-Dieu where she eventually gave birth. But in the hours that followed, complications arose including major bleeding that doctors could not stop. She was transferred to the intensive care unit.
Over the following hours and days, Dupuis developed severe anemia, coagulation problems, a rapid heart rate (tachycardia), lactic acidosis and had a hysterectomy.
To see more documents/articles regarding this group/organization/subject click here.