Anybody remember this case?

by chicken little 6 Replies latest watchtower medical

  • chicken little
    chicken little

    Does anybody remember the case from Italy, it involved a married couple who were new to the Jw org and had a child that needed a transfusion. They refused, the child died and they were both sent to prison for long terms of imprisonment. We were often told of their great faith even so new in "the truth". I have wondered what happened to them and if they stayed witnesses...anybody remember was late 80s I think.

    Regards chicken little

  • AudeSapere


    Never heard of them. How horrible.


  • justhuman

    I do recall this case, but I don't know what happened after they went to prison...perhaps any JW's(ex)from Italy can give us some light on this matter...indeed how would the parents feel just a shame and another innocent life, and this time a life of a child was sacrified in the WT's altar of blood.

    I will never understand how this God of "Love" demands so much blood from the JW's

  • mouthy

    Never heard of them. How awful.... I wonder how many people in the world has suffered from believing all the teachings of the JWs.It must be in the millions.

  • Gadget



    In Italy, in 1982, a couple who had lovingly sought medical help in four countries for their incurably ill daughter were sentenced to 14 years in prison on the charge of murder after the girl died while being given a court-ordered transfusion.

    This was mentioned in the proclaimers book, but no names were mentioned.
  • Earnest

    This was apparently reported in a Digest of Selected Medical Law and Bioethics Cases :

    The judgment at first instance [ Cagliari Assize Court, 10 March 1982 ], upheld on appeal, found the parents guilty of participation in an intentional homicide, finding this intention in the act of having accepted the risk of not preventing the death of their minor child.

    The Court of Cassation [ Ist Criminal Division, 13 December 1983 ] set aside the judgment of the Court of Appeal and referred it back to the Court of Appeal for a flaw in the judgment's reasoning as to the recognised existence of a homicidal intent...

    ...the Rome [Assize] Court of Appeal [ 13 June 1986 ] held the parents responsible for participation in the crime of manslaughter as an unintended consequence of the offence of violation of the duty of assistance owed to family members.

    I am unaware whether the sentence was amended but would think that as the crime was changed from intentional homicide to manslaughter it would have been substantially reduced.

  • BluesBrother

    g82 10/22 pp. 24-27 A Shocking Injustice!


    WHEN injustice touches you or your loved ones, do you not feel very strongly about it? But even when others are treated unjustly, we should be concerned. A pattern of injustice can undermine a whole country or civilization.

    A shocking injustice has occurred on the Italian island of Sardinia. There a young couple, Giuseppe and Consiglia Oneda, have been charged with the death of their beloved daughter and are now imprisoned. They have been treated worse than terrorists, so that their case has received international attention. As you examine the facts, you will see that what occurred is an attack on minorities. It also undermines the right to choose medical treatment from a doctor or a hospital and the right of parents to care properly for their children.



    The Onedas are residents of Sarroch, a small town on Sardinia. You can imagine their delight when, on December 23, 1977, their much-awaited first child, Isabella, was born. But they soon experienced great sadness. Why? Within six months they could see that Isabella was pale and not growing normally. When the Onedas sought medical attention, doctors told them that she suffered from Mediterranean anemia. The doctors began treating the baby with blood transfusions; still, the disease worsened.

    During this period the Onedas began studying the Bible with Jehovah’s Witnesses and drew comfort from learning that some day God will bring an end to suffering and death. (Revelation 21:4) Having high regard for life, Jehovah’s Witnesses accept modern medical treatment; scores of them are physicians. However, they are convinced that transfusions are forbidden for them by Biblical passages such as: "Only flesh with its soul—its blood—you must not eat." (Genesis 9:3, 4) Also, they know that the first apostolic council commanded Christians to ‘abstain from fornication and from blood.’—Acts 15:19, 20.

    From studying the Bible the Onedas sensed more deeply that parents should lovingly care for their children. They were so conscientious that at times they skipped meals to have more funds for the best food and medicine to give young Isabella.



    Isabella was suffering from the serious blood disorder thalassemia major (also called Cooley’s disease). This is a condition that many in the Mediterranean area inherit. Blood transfusions are commonly given as a treatment, but this is only a temporary measure. Sadly, the disease is incurable. Most of those afflicted die in childhood. A publication on blood diseases shows that when this condition manifests itself in infants—as was the case with Isabella—it usually is fatal "within the first two years of life."—TrattatodiPatologiaMedica (Tract on Medical Pathology) of U. Teodori, Rome, 1976.



    During 1978 and early 1979 the Onedas repeatedly took Isabella to the Second Clinic at the University of Cagliari, though she could not be cured. Finally, in June 1979 they reached a decision based on the Bible. They told the doctors that they would no longer bring Isabella for transfusions. But they made it clear that they would accept any other therapy. The Onedas continued to provide exceptional care for Isabella, even seeking treatment from doctors in northern Italy, Switzerland, Germany and France.

    The Social Service of the Clinic contacted the Minor’s Court, which directed the Clinic to contact the civil authorities to see that the child was brought in. A number of times the Clinic contacted the officials of Sarroch, and a local policeman came for the child. In this way, many blood transfusions were forced on young Isabella.

    However, from the middle of March until July 2, 1980, the Clinic neglected to have Isabella brought for treatment. During this period, the Onedas were blessed with a second child, a healthy daughter whom they also loved and cared for. Then on July 2, 1980, the police again took Isabella to the Clinic, where she died while a transfusion was being given to her.



    You might imagine this to be the sad finale. Yet now a horrible injustice began to develop. On July 5, 1980, the Onedas were arrested and charged with voluntary homicide—murder! Unbelievably, this Christian couple, who were already deeply saddened over losing their first daughter, now had the added burden of being charged with desiring her death.

    The parents were imprisoned for twentymonths. Despite a doctor’s report that Giuseppe Oneda was sick, temporary freedom awaiting the trial was refused. This cruelty prevented them from caring for their second daughter. Finally, a court trial was held. On March 10, 1982, the Onedas were pronounced guilty and sentenced to fourteen years in prison, followed by three years’ probation. Think of that—a sentence exceeding that given to many terrorists!



    All of us who are interested in freedom and human rights should seriously consider what here occurred.

    In a Memorandum to the Investigating Judge, the Director of the Clinic stated: "In the Clinic numerous cases of Thalassemia Major have been diagnosed (about 700). Many of these never came back or came back sporadically. The Clinic does not have sufficient personnel even to assist the sick." If the Clinic let hundreds of little children with this disease go untreated and then did not comply fully with the court’s direction concerning Isabella, how could the Onedas be the ones guilty of her death? Let your humanity and sense of justice answer.

    Many interesting details were presented at the trial. Court appointed medical experts showed: (1) that "the clinical stage" of Isabella’s disease "was at the terminal point," meaning that she was near death; (2) that even transfusions during the weeks or months before her death "could not have had any clinical relevance and legal medical role in modifying the fateful evolution of the disease."

    You may know what doctors also admit—that there is much proof that blood transfusions often have serious, even fatal, consequences. In many severely anemic patients, iron builds up in the body, which dangerous condition can be aggravated by transfusions.

    Professor Edoardo Storti (Director of the Hematological Institute of Pavia University) concluded from Isabella’s autopsy report: "The death was caused by a uniting of various factors: (a) intense anemia; (b) a notable iron deposit in the vital tissues, especially in the myocardium . . . I also hold it is to be doubted that the therapy, even the most intense and modern, could have sensibly modified the evolution of the disease."

    Furthermore, with a patient having a hemoglobin of lower than five grams and having heart problems, as was the case with Isabella, blood transfusions usually are not indicated for they can produce acute pulmonary edema, which can be fatal. Isabella’s autopsy revealed pulmonary edema.

    In view of these facts, why were the Onedas charged with manslaughter? Professor Angelo Fiori (Director of the Legal Medicine Institute of the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart in Rome) pointed out: "To assert that the unfavorable evolution is tied to the conduct of the parents . . . is without any doubt unfounded and risky."

    Another medical-legal expert stated that the claim that Isabella died because of a failure to have transfusions administered "is as absurd as affirming that one who has a tumor, on reaching the final stage of disease, died because he was not given vitamins."



    Though an appeal has been filed, the parents remain behind bars. But many have expressed concern over the injustice.


    Tempo of March 11, 1982, stated: "Having listened in the courtroom, the legal doctor, Doctor Alessandro Bucarelli, had declared it was not possible at the stage of the investigation to establish a causative link between the lack of transfusions and the thalassemic little one’s death." Then the article observed: "Normally, when in doubt a person is acquitted or there is further investigation: this time despite doubt the accused was condemned." Why?

    Fair-minded persons aware of the facts wonder why the doubts expressed by the court’s own expert witnesses were not pursued. Why did the court refuse to consider another hypothesis as to the cause of death or to hear the expert witnesses of the defense? Why did the court focus on the parents who had sincerely sought treatment consistent with their religious beliefs? Yes—WHY?


    Tempo quoted a Canadian lawyer who attended the trial: "At one time it was the Inquisition that persecuted those not belonging to the Church. Now the persecution is a little hidden but in reality is the same. Hundreds of children die in Sardinia with or without blood transfusions: medical texts show there is no effective cure for this disease. Now the Public Prosecutor has pretended to indicate a remedy to us, but this pretense was just an excuse that could be found to condemn this respectful couple responsible only of having had a child affected with a disease that no one can cure. In fact, the child died while undergoing a blood transfusion without the parents’ consent to it."

    From Turin, StampaSera said: "The hope now is that in the appeal trial such sentence will be annulled. Fourteen years in prison in fact is not even contemplated in the law for terrorists . . . who bear on their shoulders the guilt of seven murders. The question is asked, Why was the Assizes Court of Cagliari so hard on the Onedas? For every year in Sardinia tens upon tens of children die from thalassemia, with or without transfusions. . . . And finally, it is grotesque that nothing was issued against the public officials whom the minor court’s judge had appointed to arrange for little Isabella to receive transfusions."

    The press in other lands also questioned whether justice was done. ElPaís of Madrid, Spain, noted that the case involved the "incurable disease: thalassemia" and that the life of a child suffering with it "can be lengthened for only a short time by repeated blood transfusions." It added: "What no one has forgiven is the fact that the judges have been merciless with these parents . . . as though they had killed Isabella with a gun in an act of fully premeditated murder. They have not been granted the least benefit of extenuating circumstances, something that in this country is extended even to the more ferocious criminals."—March 12, 1982.



    Likely the law in your country, as in Italy, says that you have a right to determine whether you will accept a treatment. That is understandable. Consider an example involving abortion. Whether you believe abortions are proper or not, how would you feel if doctors caused a policeman to come to your home and force you or a loved one to submit to an abortion regardless of your wishes?

    Also, it is admitted worldwide that parents should have a voice in their children’s care. If parents know that a child has an incurable disease, and that a certain treatment could cause premature death, should the parents be forced by policemen to submit to it?

    In Scotland, A. D. Farr, a lecturer on blood transfusion techniques, wrote with regard to forced blood transfusions:

    "The State is gradually taking over the function of making decisions for the individual. It is in this way that free countries cease to be free and become totalitarian. . . . This is not mere fanciful speculation. Freedom is a precious and comparatively rare possession, to be jealously guarded in those countries where it exists."

    The Constitution in Italy guarantees freedom, as the Constitution in your land may. But when religious freedom and parental rights are trampled on, a danger arises that could threaten the freedom and rights of all citizens. This has already occurred in Sardinia. Two loving, Christian parents are in prison, receiving worse treatment than many who are deliberate murderers. All lovers of freedom should be appalled at this gross injustice and should be interested in the results of the appeal. Awake! will keep you informed on this important case.

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