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Jehovah’s Witnesss Would Rather Wife Die than Receive Blood Transfusion

Western religion is the sworn enemy of truth, reason and, from time to time, medical science. Nothing quite says “I’m a willfully ignorant fucktard” like being a devout Jew, Christian or Muslim who believes their holy texts are the literal word of god. Usually, conflicts that arise from this slavish devotion to fairy-tales, make-believe and imaginary friends is confined to the realm of ideology, philosophy or theory. Usually, but not always. When fundamentalist belief does rear its ugly, medieval head in real-world situations, the results can have life-or-death implications.

Such is the case Candy Huff. Candy’s husband of 25 years, Bruce Huff, is a baptized Jehovah’s Witness from Charlestown, Indiana. When Candy fell unconscious a few weeks ago and rushed to nearby Clark Memorial Hospital, Bruce, his head full of nonsense of Biblical proportions (literally), wrote a letter to hospital staff instructing them not to give her any blood transfusions.

Relying on a 2,000-year-old fairy-tale book for medical advice is a really good idea!

“I love Candy,” he told the News and Tribune.  “I told them to do absolutely anything to save her life except give her blood or blood products.”

Yes, Bruce Huff loves his wife. He just doesn’t love her as much as he loves following ridiculous and potentially deadly religious dogma.

Turns out poor Candy actually needed a transfusion. Luckily, the hospital filed a petition with local authorities in the Clark County Circuit Court to request the appointment of someone besides Bruce to make critical medical decisions for her. Bruce, the hospital rightly claimed, wasn’t capable of making decisions in Candy’s best interest. Bruce thinks it’s because of his religious beliefs; the hospital denies this, but citing privacy laws, won’t say why it believes Bruce can’t make the best decisions for his wife. Candy’s aunt was appointed by the court to decide her medical questions. Clark Memorial gave her blood.

Hats off to Clark Memorial Hospital for doing the right thing.

Bruce Huff claims he does not even consider himself a Jehovah’s Witness anymore, although he does still believe what they do. That includes an interpretation of the Bible that exhorts believers to “keep abstaining from things sacrificed to idols and from blood.” Leviticus 17 commands followers to “not partake of the blood of any flesh.”

Of course, Leviticus also prescribes death for adulterers, those who talk back to their parents, homosexuals, and those who work on Sundays. It also sanctions slavery: “Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves. You may also buy some of the temporary residents living among you and members of their clans born in your country, and they will become your property” (Leviticus 25: 44-45) and forbids the consumption of shellfish.

But I digress.

Indiana state law clearly spells out who can make medical decisions in such cases, with judicially appointed medical representatives heading the list. Next come spouses, adult children and adult siblings. If disagreements persist, courts decide what is in a patient’s best interest. After that, religious authorities have a say.

“The hospital always tries to look at the facts and circumstances and look at the families, all of the patients’ rights and all of the family’s rights,” Pamela Thompson, an attorney for Clark Memorial told the News and Tribune.

As for Bruce Huff, he says that after a quarter century of marriage, he knows what his wife would want. “I know my wife better than anybody,” he said. “She always wanted to do what’s right.” Huff claims the couple discussed the blood issue “many times” and thinks she would not have wanted transfusions.

The case illustrates the importance of setting up living wills to make any end-of-life issues less contentious.

Candy Huff’s condition is, fortunately, improving. The News and Tribune reports that she may be moved to a hospital in Indianapolis, Bruce says he wants to move there with her.

 

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2 Comments

  1. NickMay 11, 2011 at 7:05 amReply

    I don’t think he would rather his wife die, but he would prefer his wife to be given alternative treatment to blood transfusions which not only goes against his (and maybe his wife’s) religious views regarding the sanctity of blood, but also due to the many medical risks associated with the inherently hazardous procedure of blood transfusions. For example, see here: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21449243

    and here: http://bloodmanagement.com/the-bloody-truth/the-bloody-truth

    It’s also true to say that in America, in many hospitals, nearly half of all blood transfusions given, maybe unnecessary. See here: http://www.youtube.com/user/mayoclinic#p/search/1/JAt__wBOhPo

    Alternatives to blood transfusion and those seeking them are rapidly growing in popularity (not just for the religious), often called Bloodless Medicine & Surgery. The risks are less and the treatment offers better health outcomes for the patient (e.g. faster recovery time, less chance of infection). Complex medical procedures such as cardiac surgery, transplantation (kidney, liver, etc.) and even trauma cases, can be successfully treated without blood transfusion.

    Government of Western Australia Department of Health.
    http://health.wa.gov.au/bloodmanagement/home/about.cfm

    The Center for Bloodless Medicine & Surgery at Pennsylvania Hospital
    http://www.pennmedicine.org/bloodless/

    Institute for Patient Blood Management and Bloodless Medicine & Surgery at Englewood Hospital
    http://www.englewoodhospital.com/ms_bloodless_home.asp

    Bloodless Surgery Grows in Popularity
    http://www.mdnews.com/news/2011_04/bloodless-surgery-grows-in-popularity

    Recent TV News Clip – “Blood Transfusion-Free Surgeries?”
    http://www.thebostonchannel.com/r-video/27470756/detail.html

    Contrary to your assertion that this particular religious belief is an enemy of medical science, the fact is, it has actually progressed medical science. Bloodless Medicine and Surgery benefits all patients and is fast becoming the new gold standard in medical treatment. Even the US Army is interested.

    http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/287219

    Nick.

  2. Joan RemillardMay 30, 2011 at 7:44 amReply

    When the U.S. Army decides to use Bloodless surgery then people should sit up and listen. Englewood hospital in New Jersey is teaching the Govt. exactly how to do it…It saves lives not takes them. But people who refuse to listen to the God that created us and knows what’s best for us should not form an opinion without facts. Or do they have to learn by losing a loved one BECAUSE OF A blood transfusion?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p5oVLbVnOqU&feature=player_embedded

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