A YOUNG Jehovah’s Witness girl is praying that doctors can perform a life-threatening operation without giving her a blood transfusion.
Eighteen-year-old Stacey Singletary (pictured right), from Louisiana, USA,
has a massive tumour growing in her brain.
The surgery to remove it would be perilous for anyone, but for Stacey, it would be especially life-threatening.
Stacey, her father Stanley, and her mother, Cassandra, are adhering to the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ ruling not to accept blood.
“We depend on what Jehovah says,” says Cassandra. “We do what Jehovah says, no matter what.”
Stacey is so debilitated, she can barely talk. But there is no question, her faith comes first.
When asked whether she had a moment’s doubt about the decision to refuse a transfusion Stacey said: “Nuh uh. Never have.”
“I’ve been told the risks many times before, over and over again.”
Stacey has spent the last 20 months trying to stay alive and going from doctor to doctor. Each one said that if she refuses to accept blood transfusions, she could die.
In surgery, she might lose so much blood that only a transfusion could save her.
Without the surgery, the tumour could kill her.
“Her chance of significant problems — namely dying — was high,” says Dr. Stephen Bailey, a neurosurgeon and one of Stacey’s first physicians.
“I was angry at their religion and their church, and I won’t hesitate to tell you or anyone else that because I believe it’s wrong.”
But with Stacey refusing blood transfusions, Bailey became the first of several doctors who would refuse to operate.
“I did not want to turn them away,” he says. “But I also did not want to face the other possible consequences, that is of seeing a girl I had grown to really like and interact well with die before my eyes.”
As the family was turned away by doctor after doctor, there was more bad news: The tumour in her brain was actually depleting blood from her body.
Her blood count had fallen, far below a normal level of 14 to about 4, a level so low that it’s widely considered “incompatible with life” — fatal.
The turning point for Stacey came after her mum remembered an article in Time magazine about the Englewood Hospital, in a New Jersey suburb outside New York City, that specialised in medical procedures without transfusions.
There they met nurse Sherri Ozawa, who helps run a special program, with her colleague Dr. Frank Forte, that caters to Jehovah’s Witnesses, called Bloodless Medicine and Surgery.
Stacey had finally found a hospital whose doctors would risk removing her brain tumour with no blood transfusions, no matter what — in order to respect her beliefs as a Jehovah’s Witness.
TO BE CONTINUED