Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Quebec Coroner Says Jehovah's Witnesses Had Right to Refuse Blood Transfusions

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Quebec Coroner Says Jehovah's Witnesses Had Right to Refuse Blood Transfusions

Article excerpt

Quebec coroner's report into blood-transfusion refusals

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MONTREAL - Anyone has the right to refuse a blood transfusion, even if it means certain death, says a Quebec coroner who studied the circumstances surrounding the deaths of two Jehovah's Witnesses who had recently given birth.

Jehovah's Witnesses believe ingesting blood goes against their beliefs and that they should not accept transfusions or donate their own blood.

"Every person in Quebec has this freedom of choice," coroner Luc Malouin said in his report, which was made public Tuesday.

"This freedom has been exercised here in accordance with the rules of law. It is up to everyone to make their choices and to fully assume the consequences."

Eloise Dupuis, 27, of Ste-Marguerite died of multiple organ failure resulting from hemorrhagic shock on Oct. 12, 2016, just seven days after giving birth to her first child.

She had been transferred to hospital in Levis from a birthing centre after complications, but had said from the start she would refuse blood products or transfusions.

A note in her medical file said she told medical staff she would prefer to die rather than receive blood products.

Malouin's report noted numerous occasions over several days when doctors tried to get Dupuis or her family to sign off on a transfusion as her health deteriorated -- and each attempt was rebuffed on the basis of religious principles.

"The only medical solution that existed for Ms. Dupuis in order to recover her health was to receive blood, but she always refused to do so," Malouin wrote.

Malouin said no medication or artificial blood product exists that is approved by Canadian or American authorities and that can replace natural blood.

"Even internationally, the research into this subject is at an experimental stage," Malouin wrote. "At this time, only a blood transfusion can compensate for severe blood loss."

Her husband, Paul-Andre Roy, released a written statement Tuesday to say his wife's death was a tragedy and that she is deeply missed.

Roy commended the care his wife received and reiterated her choices were "made independently and not under duress."

"She was an intelligent woman with deep personal convictions," Roy said. "She refused the blood transfusions not because she was forced to do so, but out of respect for her convictions to which she attached a great price."

Roy said Dupuis understood the risks and benefits of blood transfusions and of other medical treatments available and considered them long before she gave birth.

But her aunt, Manon Boyer, who has long questioned the circumstances under which her niece died, said she was disappointed in the report.

"It talks about having a Plan B in similar cases, but it's also mentioned there was no Plan B for Eloise," Boyer said in an interview.

Malouin also found there was no religious influence from Jehovah officials in Dupuis' case as had been alleged by some of her relatives. …

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