Family of Jehovah's Witness who died after refusing blood transfusion can't keep suing doctors

by pale.emperor 39 Replies latest watchtower medical

  • pale.emperor

    The family of a Jehovah's Witness who died after repeatedly refusing blood transfusions can't sue the hospital where doctors begged for a chance to save her life, a state appeals court ruled.

    The case, outlined in an opinion by Superior Court Judge Jacqueline O. Shogan, involves a convergence of religion, medicine and the law.

    Its focus is on what happened before Terri Seels-Davila, a Jehovah's Witness missionary, died after giving birth at Hahnemann University Hospital in Philadelphia in November 2010.

    Seels-Davila, who had been serving on mission with her husband in Nicaragua, chose Hahnemann because of its "bloodless medicine" program for patients who won't agree to having blood transfusions, including Jehovah's Witnesses, Shogan noted. The treatment plan for Seels-Davila called for recycling her own blood back into her system.

    Yet that proved to be inadequate when complications of her delivery required Seels-Davila to deliver by cesarean section. She developed internal bleeding. Even though doctors warned that her condition was dire, Seels-Davila, her husband and other family members refused to consent to a transfusion, court filings state.

    Those filings include testimony from a doctor who said Seels-Davila told him "she was a minister of the faith...and that she was OK with whatever happened." Seels-Davila died four days later.

    Seels-Davila's family sued the hospital for medical malpractice in 2012. During a civil trial three years later, a Philadelphia County jury ruled in favor of the hospital and the doctors who treated her.

    The family's failed appeal to the state court represented an attempt to revive the suit. Seels-Davila's relatives claimed, among other things, that the county judge wrongly prevented an expert witness from testifying against the bloodless medicine program and didn't allow them to press a claim for corporate negligence.

    Shogan agreed that the expert witness wasn't qualified to testify in the case. The family's failure to provide a competent expert witness also undermined its corporate negligence claim, she found.

    The state judge found as well that the county judge rightly allowed the jury to see the consent forms Seels-Davila signed in which she explicitly refused to consent to transfusions.

    "The consent forms were not admitted merely to show that Seels-Davila understood the risks of treatment, yet elected to proceed," Shogan wrote. "The consents were admitted to prove that Seels-Davila knowingly refused treatments that would have saved her life."

  • _Morpheus

    I hate to hear that a new mother died, its always a tragedy and especially when it was preventable.

    That said, the husband/family has absolutely no right to sue. If the doctors provided otherwise competent care and she refused a transfusion.... then she made a knowing decision and im sure in the moment her husband was gung ho about it too.... now that shes gone and he has to raise a child on his own with little job prospects after being a missionary i suspect a payout from a hospital sounds better.

    Again, my deepest sympathy to the motherless child and family who im sure mourns their wife and daughter.... but choices have consequences.

  • Hecce

    Some comments at the site:

    Peter_Puck23 hours ago

    "Family of Jehovah's Witness who died after refusing blood transfusion can't keep suing doctors" - Correct. You can't have it both ways.

    fuzzlebunny1 day ago

    What happened to not infringing on someone's religion?

    Oh right, someone died because of that religion.

    Avatar for JTSpangler
    JTSpangler1 day ago

    The Jehovahs are a fringe Christian cult whose ignorance sentences their adherents to death. No religion worth believing in does that, in my opinion.

    @JTSpangler they are no more fringe than any other Christian sect. Each sect has just as many baseless beliefs as the next. It's just when those beliefs are actually acted upon that people realize that religion is pretty silly and dangerous.

    D1 day ago

    wait, what? why is this even a thing? how did this waste my tax dollars in any court?

    Avatar for JB78
    JB781 day ago

    @D I'm trying to understand this too! If their religion prohibits blood transfusion and she obviously died from a loss of blood why are they suing? Shouldn't they be going around knocking on peoples' homes instead???

    Avatar for Cheesus
    Cheesus21 hours ago

    It's civil court, so one or both of the parties are likely footing the bill.

  • steve2

    I still can't fathom why this progressed to the Courts. What on earth were the exact grounds of the lawsuit?

  • pale.emperor

    It's not clear to me if it's the JW family that are trying to sue or is there a non JW side thats trying to sue?

    This is the problem, JWs haven't really thought this through, what it actually means. When i was a JW i refused to talk to other JWs about what things i'd accept and what things i wouldn't because they'd always try and argue why theirs is a better thought out decision. One of my ex girlfriends put down that she'd REFUSE ALL. Including fractions. Whereas i had put ACCEPT ALL on mine. When she seen my card she argued with me about it for weeks.

    When my ex-wife was giving birth, her dad had to rush to our home and get her blood card (we'd deliberately left it at home), when he brought it he took me aside and said "she's made a mistake, she's ticked that she'd accept all fractions, i can get a new blank form from my car for her to complete". I just said, she's put what she's put lets just leave it at that.

    Incidentally, when i went back into the room i kept the card on me and never let on that i had it.

    The HLC people were outside the room the whole time. You know, just in case she tries to save her own life or anything.

  • Chook

    You never hear what Jesus's opinion on blood is . I think he would allow it on grounds , life is greater than law just like in the case of the sheep that fell in the well. Interesting how her own consent forms nuked the family's case. They should send their legal bills to Warwick so a to give a fine witness as to freshly printed currency collected from old ladies and children.

  • OrphanCrow
    steve2: What on earth were the exact grounds of the lawsuit?

    Malpractice. Based on an evaluation (that was rejected) of the hospital's "bloodless" program. The appellant was trying to say that the bloodless program didn't meet the standard of care.

    pale.emperor: It's not clear to me if it's the JW family that are trying to sue or is there a non JW side thats trying to sue?

    The person who brought this case was Terri's father - Raymond Seel. His claim was that he was "a retired licensed nurse and also a devout Jehovah’s Witness "

    chook: You never hear what Jesus's opinion on blood is .

    Well, all the WT will say about Jesus is that he said to keep the blood law. But then, Jesus gave his blood so that the entire world could live. He shed blood for everybody. Jesus - the first blood donor.

    I think this is why the WT will only point to Jesus's shed blood as being an exchange for Adam's sin instead of his shed blood saving everybody.

  • eyeuse2badub

    Collateral damage n.---------Unintended damage, injuries, or deaths caused by an action, especially a military event

    I have sometimes thought that this term, ‘collateral damage’ applies to the pain, suffering, and death experienced by jw’s who have faithfully adhered to the wtbts’s stupid medical policies. Because the wtbts has to be right about everything that they publish, and they can’t back down, the unintended result of their very flawed medical policies has certainly left a swath of death, suffering and unnecessary loss for many. Of course the wtbts doesn’t intend for their members to die due to refusing necessary medical treatment, but it certainly happens all too often.

    It’s not the intention of the military to kill civilians when they order a drone strike on a “high value target”, but it happens and it is an acceptable outcome if the target is eliminated.

    Dying “for the cause”, as this young sister did, is an acceptable outcome to the wtbts because she did not ‘compromise’ Just as collateral damage is acceptable to the military.

    What do you think?

    just saying!

  • dogon

    Dubbers do not deserve any monetary judgment when they them-self have caused their own death. Fuck em.

  • problemaddict 2
    problemaddict 2

    I mentioned it on the other post about this case, but I did not know cell saver machines stripped blood of its coagulating effects. In the end, the blood they salvaged and re-introduced, could not effectively clot. This is why in the end, she slowly died over the course of a couple days.

    Had whole blood of the main "component" with clotting factors been introduced, it is very likely she would have survived.

    It seems that she was an american citizen, serving in Nicaragua, who married a man from that country (since an emergency visa was something the doctors were willing to arrange).

    It was heartbreaking to hear of the medical staff trying everything they could, begging the family for relief. Horrific.

    Of course if you listen to the apologists.....this kind of thing really doesn't happen anymore right?

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