Shropshire Star news editor examines issues behind death of JW Emma Gough

by AndersonsInfo 85 Replies latest watchtower medical

  • AndersonsInfo

    Shropshire Star

    April 9, 2008

    Why would loving faith allow death?

    Features news editor Neil Thomas examines the issues behind the tragic death of new mum Emma Gough.

    Words written by heaven knows who and attributed to Moses have brought about the apparently needless death of a young Shropshire mother, and blighted many other lives, more than 3,000 years later.

    Far-fetched, possibly. Yet, how else are we to interpret the death of Emma Gough?

    Mid and north Shropshire coroner John Ellery said yesterday that Emma had received appropriate medical care and treatment and would probably be alive if she had accepted a blood transfusion.

    The 22-year-old from Telford died after suffering massive blood loss just hours after giving birth to twins at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital. Emma was a Jehovah’s Witness, a sect which believes that the Bible forbids blood transfusions.

    Whatever your beliefs, this was a case with no winners. Emma’s chance of a fulfilling life, to see the little boy and girl she gave birth to on that fateful day grow up and have their own families, is gone.

    The twins are denied a mother’s love. Emma’s parents Glenda and Jim have had to face the unbearable grief of burying their child. Emma’s husband Anthony has lost the love of his life.

    And what of the physicians - Dr Lucy Turner who delivered the twins and consultant gynaecologist, Mr Olofunso Oyesanya, called in to remove a blood clot shortly after the birth?

    They were armed with the tools to save Emma and rendered powerless to use them - caught in the crossfire of the classic modern age conflict between science and faith.

    Doctors can also call on antiquity. Jehovah’s Witnesses may make sacrificial demands of themselves, but physicians adhere to the Hippocratic Oath - written in the 4th Century BC by Hippocrates, the father of medicine, or one of his students.

    Doctors swear, among other things, to keep the sick “from harm and injustice”.

    Mr Oyesanya had no doubt Emma would have survived with a blood transfusion, but was faced with her advance directive refusing such treatment.

    On Monday he found himself in a witness box at Shrewsbury Magistrates Court, fending off questions from the Gough family solicitor Richard Daniel.

    He asked Mr Oyesanya if a clotting factor could have been used to stem Emma’s critical blood loss. Mr Daniel suggested Mr Oyesanya might have employed Factor Seven as an alternative to a transfusion.

    This is the clotting agent used on troops in Iraq and the subject of a little controversy, with some experts claiming the £3,000-a-shot treatment can induce heart attacks and strokes. Still, no lives are at risk if you throw it into the war of sophistry in a courtroom.

    Mr Oyesanya remained dignified, even if he bridled once or twice at questioning designed to examine his competence as a doctor. Underlying it, though, was not so much “why didn’t you save Emma’s life?” but “why didn’t you save Emma’s life with one hand tied behind your back?”

    “We want to do the best for our patient. That’s why we sign up,” was Mr Oyesanya’s response.

    So why has this tragedy happened? On the face of it, The Bible no more appears to forbid blood transfusions than it does chemotherapy and liver transplants. It simply wouldn’t have been an issue in 1400BC.

    It is, of course, all in the interpretation.

    The Bible might have incited wars, inquisitions and stake-burnings but had caused no harm to those needing life-saving blood transfusions during two world wars. In 1945, though, the faith’s handbook The Watchtower - under the editorship of one Nathan Homer Norr - carried the line “the stranger was forbidden to eat or drink blood, whether by transfusion or by the mouth”.

    And that was it. In 64 years since, Jehovah’s Witnesses have bled to death for their faith. Little children have died on operating tables while their parents stood by and quoted scriptures. The wider world has looked on with a mixture of horror, pity, anger and incredulity.

    The Old Testament books of Genesis and Leviticus and the New Testament Acts of the Apostles have now led to a young Shropshire woman, with everything to live for, making the ultimate sacrifice. It is inconceivable that Jehovah’s Witnesses - Christians who believe in love and mercy - would want this.

    Perhaps, in the wake of Emma’s death, the faith’s leaders could now spearhead a doctrinal debate on the issue.

    After all, the scriptures also advocate animal sacrifice and no one practises that any more. If we can jetison The Bible to spare the lives of lambs and kids, why not humans?

    As the book of Revelations says: “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain.”

  • mouthy

    What a ruddy shame...Barb... Thanks for the heads up. So many people have e-mailed me & called asking if she was a relative ...No she was not.

  • potentialJWconvertswife

    another sacrificial death on the altar of the WT. Very sad. -Potential

  • jgnat

    That's a great article. It summarizes the problem very nicely. It's a travesty to hold the medical profession liable for an obviously life-threatening belief. Let's hold the Watchtower Society liable, where it belongs.

  • AudeSapere

    I am unclear as to who is pressing charges?

    Is this just an inquiry or is the state suing the family on behalf of the dead woman??

    Or is the family actually trying to ruin the credibility of the doctors and score a cash bonus in the process???

    If it's the family pursuing the suit, shame on them! They are cautioned against suing each other.

    Is their 'open season' on physicians entrapped into treating witnesses only to be pressured to perform against the physicians own conscience and oath of ethics???

    Can anyone clarify who initiated this suit?


  • DoomVoyager

    Christians who believe in love and mercy

    Oops... They also spelt Knorr's name wrong.

  • M.J.

    Thanks Babara.

  • Tatiana

    Or is the family actually trying to ruin the credibility of the doctors and score a cash bonus in the process???

    Seems like it.

    The inquest heard that Mrs Gough's family believed there was inadequate monitoring of her as a "high risk patient" not only carrying twins but unable, through her religious beliefs, to have a blood transfusion should the need arise.

    Richard Daniel, representing the family, suggested that if she had received "urgent" attention much sooner, it might have negated the need for a blood transfusion.

    When asked by Mr Daniel how long it had taken to identify the site of the bleed and repair it, Mr Oyesanya said: "The magic wand here was the blood transfusion. That was the crux of the matter."

    Mr Oyesanya said he no longer worked at the hospital and had taken up a position elsewhere.

    The inquest continues.

  • stillajwexelder

    The Doctor should not be on the stand - the GB should be

  • skeeter1

    The new story states that Emma had a blood clot. Then, the news story states that the Jehovah's Witnesses wanted the doctors to administer Factor VII, a blood clotting agent.

    Skeeter says, "Say what?"

    Blood clots are very dangerous. Travel to the heart, lungs, brain....and Emma is dead. Emma already had clots, so the JWs quack HLC wants to give her medicine to give her more clots?

    Emma wasn't hemophiliac, and giving her Factor VII would have been "witch doctoring" to me. She needed a blood transfusion or hemoglobin. Not Factor VII

    See the below article I found on Factor VIII. Yes, it would have been "witch medicine" to give it to his young lady.


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