Little has been said about the sure-death scenario of a JW severely hemorrhaging during labour.
A core belief among members of the Jehovah’s Witness (JW) faith is that they will not accept blood transfusion or its primary components, including red and white blood cells, platelets and plasma, even when such transfusion could be life-saving1. This poses potential problems for obstetric services worldwide because obstetric haemorrhage remains a major cause of maternal mortality and morbidity2,3. Indeed, there is a general consensus that morbidity and mortality rates in association with childbirth are higher in these women than in the general population4–7. In the largest observational study in the USA, Singla et al. reported that JW women were at increased risk of maternal death and that blood loss was the major factor4. In the UK, the largest descriptive obstetric study of JW reported a 65-fold increased risk of maternal death compared to the national rate. In addition, there was significant haemorrhage (>1,000 mL) in 6% of all of Caesarean sections5.
More recently, a study from the Netherlands reported that compared to the non-JW Dutch population, JW women had a 6-fold higher risk of all causes of maternal death, a 130-fold increased risk of maternal death because of major obstetric haemorrhage and a 3-fold higher risk of maternal morbidity because of obstetric haemorrhage6. Other earlier studies support these views, both for obstetric and gynaecological operations7.