Blood appeal abandoned

Irish Medical News/April 21, 2009

Legal representatives for a Jehovah's Witness have abandoned an appeal into what is believed to be the first instance in Ireland where a court ordered a blood transfusion to be given to an adult against her will. IMN has been informed that the legal team for Ms K, a Jehovah's Witness, including senior counsel Mr John Rogers of the Law Library of Ireland and barrister Dr Simon Mills, felt there were no sufficient merits for an appeal.

The team, in the end, felt that the judgement did not necessarily set a case precedent as the presiding High Court judge had noted that the facts of the case were such that it was highly unlikely it would recur.

Furthermore, Supreme Court judge Justice Susan Denham had, in a 1996 judgment, ruled that as long as they are mentally competent, an adult patient should be allowed to refuse a blood transfusion even if it will risk the patient's life.

Ms K, a 23-year-old Jehovah's Witness from the Democratic Republic of Congo, gave birth at the Coombe Women's Hos­pital in Dublin in 2006. The baby was fine, but the mother haemorrhaged badly, losing approximately 80 per cent of her blood.

The High Court in April 2008 upheld the action by the Hospital to carry out the procedure against the wishes of Ms K, who agrees the procedure may have saved her life, ruling that she had lacked capacity at the time of the decision.

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