Witness's refusal of transfusion costs his life

Montreal Gazette/January 14, 2007

A young Jehovah's Witness's decision to refuse a blood transfusion - which eventually led to his death - has split his family along religious lines.

Jean-Claude Lavoie, 26, died in late December after refusing a transfusion while being treated for an intestinal tumour, the TQS television network reported Friday.

Lavoie's brother, who is a former Jehovah's Witness, has since launched an Internet petition calling on the federal government to make it illegal for a person to refuse treatment on religious grounds.

"The Jehovah's Witnesses refuse blood transfusions for religious reasons," Jonathan Lavoie writes on the petition's website.

"This creates enormous stress for the family."

Jonathan maintains that his brother would still be alive if he had received a transfusion.

But Jean-Claude's father told TQS he is willing to accept his son's decision.

"At the beginning it was anticipated that in his case they would be able to operate without a transfusion, but there were complications," Jocelyn Lavoie said. "It's unfortunate, but it came to that.

"It's important to respect Jean-Claude's choice."

As many as 1,000 people have signed Jonathan Lavoie's petition so far.

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