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Blood Update

JW girl wins right to refuse blood transfusion.
IN a showdown between modern medicine and freedom of faith, a court has agreed to let a young girl to refuse a blood transfusion.

Seventeen-year-old Alexis Demos, of Lenox, Boston, is hospitalised after injuring her spleen in a snowboarding accident in January.

Her doctors believe she may at some point need a transfusion. But she is a practising Jehovah’s Witness and believes that a transfusion would violate her religious beliefs.

If she were an adult, she would automatically have been allowed to decide whether to accept blood. But she doesn’t turn 18 until October, and the Berkshire Medical Centre maintained she should not be allowed to make such a weighty decision.

The court said judges must interview the minor and determine whether she was mature enough to decide what was in their “best interest”.

Richard A. Simons, who represents the Lenox teenager, said the ruling means minors who can convince a judge they are making a rational, intelligent choice to refuse medical treatment may see their wishes prevail over the objections of their parents and the state.

“The court is indicating” that judges “may consider the maturity of the child to make informed choices,” said Simons, a Pittsfield attorney.

“And when that child expresses their preference and expresses their religious conviction, that’ what’s significant- rather than just saying a minor has no say in controlling his or her medical decisions.”

Woman lies in critical condition after refusing blood.
A WOMAN lies in a critical condition in a Los Angeles hospital after she refused a blood transfusion to carry out an everyday operating procedure.

Rosario Rios Villagomez lies attached to a ventilator in the intensive care unit and relies on antibiotics to fight the septic shock that, along with multiple organ failure, grew out of a treatable but neglected malady: gallstones.

As devout members of Jehovah’s Witnesses, the 51-year-old woman and her husband, both Bolivians who formerly lived in Northern Virginia, refused a blood transfusion doctors recommended when she was admitted to L.A.’s Martin Luther King Hospital last month.

A cousin of Villagomez in Bethesda tried to intervene, but found she was powerless to persuade doctors to perform the procedure in the face of religious objections.

She even wrote a letter to Watch Tower Society leader Milton G. Henschel, but received an unsigned letter back explaining that there was nothing it could do.

Husband Freddy Villagomez, 42, said he delayed taking his wife to the hospital because she was “afraid of surgery” – not for religious reasons, but because of bad experiences with operations years ago in Bolivia.
   “My wife never realised it was that serious,” he said. “Sometimes, as people, we make mistakes. . . .It’s my wife’s wish and my wish for her to live, but we also want to obey Jehovah. I am just supporting my wife while she is not conscious. I have to make sure her wished are respected.

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