"A patient in the hospital maybe fed through the mouth, through the nose, or through the veins. When sugar solutions are given intravenously it is called intravenous feeding. So the hospital's own terminology recognizes as feeding the process of putting nutrition into one's system via the veins. Hence the attendant administering the transfusion is feeding the patient through the veins, and the patient receiving it is eating through his veins." -- The WATCHTOWER magazine, July 1, 1951.
Jehovah's Witnesses were BAMBOOZLED into believing that receiving an infusion of human blood into their body's circulatory system was scientifically the exact same thing as eating or ingesting blood into their body's digestive system. Jehovah's Witnesses refuse to acknowledge that when blood is eaten as "food" that the ingested blood enters the human body's separate and distinct digestive system, where it is treated by the digestive system exactly the same as a hotdog, a potato chip, or any other item of "food". It will be completely digested and broken down into proteins, carbohydrates, fats, and waste -- which are then either assimilated or excreted by the body.
Jehovah's Witnesses refuse to acknowledge the distinction that when human blood is TRANSFUSED into another human's circulatory system that the transfused human blood remains to be human blood and continues to function as human blood. That is the very point of a blood transfusion. The very purpose of blood transfusions is to SAVE HUMAN LIFE. Blood transfusions are based on RESPECT FOR HUMAN LIFE.
The WatchTower Cult uses Old Testament guidelines regarding the disposal of blood from slaughtered animals to teach Jehovah's Witnesses that blood is "sacred"because blood is the "symbol" of life. Then, in the same breath, the WatchTower Cult turns around and requires Jehovah's Witnesses to SACRIFICE ACTUAL HUMAN LIFE to maintain the SANCTITY OF THE SYMBOL. WatchTower Cult doctrine MORONICALLY places a higher value on the SYMBOL OF HUMAN LIFE than it does ACTUAL HUMAN LIFE.
In fact, the Old Testament permitted the eating of "unbled" animal meat, which the Old Testament equated to eating animal blood itself. In emergency situations, when humans needed to eat unbled meat in order to sustain their life, the Mosaic Law permitted such desperate humans to eat "unbled" meat. Once their life had been saved, those humans were then required for a few days to fulfill the Mosaic Law's requirements for being "unclean". Thus, THE BIBLE RECOGNIZES AND TEACHES that the SUSTAINING OF HUMAN LIFE is MORE IMPORTANT than maintaining the "sanctity" of the mere "symbol" of life. To do otherwise would be doing exactly what the MORONIC WatchTower Cult does. It would make the SYMBOL more SACRED than the THING SYMBOLIZED.
In fact, the WatchTower Cult is MISLEADING JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES TO DISOBEY GOD and violate the Holy Scriptures in one of the most serious ways possible. GOD created humans in HIS image. GOD considers human life to be SACRED. A Jehovah's Witness who extinguishes SACRED HUMAN LIFE in order to MORONICALLY maintain the sanctity of the SYMBOL of that SACRED LIFE varies little from those who profane SACRED HUMAN LIFE by committing suicide. Those Jehovah's Witness Elders who teach and police this MORONIC WATCHTOWER CULT DOCTRINE vary little from MURDERERS. The Bible is clear as to how GOD views MURDER and how GOD views and deals with MURDERERS.
The WatchTower Cult's SATANIC twisting of GOD'S WORD and BAMBOOZLING of its' Jehovah's Witness members in order to establish its own version of the GENERIC CULTIC REQUIREMENT of "POTENTIAL MARTYRDOM FOR ALL - ACTUAL MARTYRDOM FOR A FEW" would be laughable if not for the fact that it has lead to the MEANINGLESS DEATHS OF THOUSANDS OF HUMANS ACROSS PLANET EARTH since 1945, and it will continue to cause the pointless deaths of THOUSANDS MORE IN THE FUTURE until LIBERAL GOVERNMENTS finally wake up and declare"NO MORE OF THIS BACK-DOOR SUICIDE STUPIDITY UNDER THE GUISE OF RELIGIOUS FREEDOM". Legal precedent is already there. Stupid religious belief is unfettered. Stupid religious practice is not.
Jehovah's Witnesses will attempt to make the same "death decision" for their minor children, but practically every hospital will attempt to obtain a court order which will permit them to administer a blood transfusion over the parent's objections - assuming that the Jehovah's Witness Child is still alive by the time all the legalities are completed. Gray areas, such as Jehovah's Witnesses females pregnant with a child, Minors approaching the age of majority, and Adults with existing parental obligations make for a more complex legal situation.
ROLE OF JEHOVAH'S WITNESS DR. STEVEN PATRICK UNKEL IN LUNSFORD v. REGENTS COURT CASE
The following excerpts are taken from the RESPONDENTS' BRIEF submitted by famous WatchTower Society Attorney JAMES M. McCABE in the REGENTS-LUNSFORD appeal to the COURT OF APPEAL OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA. These excerpts will give readers some feel for the role played by Dr. Steven P. Unkel both during the trial as well as events before, during, and after the surgery giving rise to this lawsuit:
PAGE 7: "Because of Dr. Potter's hesitancy, the Lunsfords did not plan on having the transplant done at UCSF. (RT 1332) Rather, they continued their search for a team that would assure them that a bloodless kidney transplant could be safely performed. (RT 1332) They knew that bloodless surgery was generally available. (RT 1332-33) On Thursday, February 23, 1984, after calling several different state university hospitals across the country, Lori spoke with Dr. Steven Unkel of St. Luke's Hospital in Houston, Texas. (RT 596, 642-43, 1335, 1337) Dr. Unkel said that he would check into the feasibility of a bloodless transplant for a patient like Casey and would call her back. (RT 1335) Dr. Unkel returned Lori's call about two or three hours later and assured her that she could bring her son to the University of Texas transplant team in Houston for a bloodless transplant. (RT 643, 1336, 1550) Based on this information from Dr. Unkel, the Lunsfords immediately started making preparations to take Casey to Houston for the transplant. (RT 644, 1336, 1551)
PAGE 11: Before meeting with Dr. Potter on Thursday, February 23rd, Lori had been in contact with Dr. Unkel of St. Luke's in Houston. (RT 596, 1335, 1337). Paralleling the family's testimony, Dr. Unkel remembered Lori calling to inquire about the possibility of doing a transplant without blood. (RT 596) Since Dr. Unkel was not a transplant surgeon, he said that he told Lori that he would speak with his superiors and would then call the family back. (RT 597, 1335) Dr. Unkel then spoke with Drs. O'Donnel and Peters, who in turn spoke to Dr. Dudrick, about the Lunsfords' request for a transplant without transfusions. (RT 597) Dr. Unkel explained that he called Lori back and told her that she could bring Casey to Houston to have the transplant done without blood. (RT 598) Dr. Charles Van Buren, the transplant surgeon associated with the Houston team, testified that he returned Lori's phone call to discuss the possibility of a bloodless transplant. (RT 1597, 1600, 1607; Appellants' Brief at 30-31) Dr. Van Buren maintained that no commitment on the blood issue was made or could be made because he would not let a child die without blood. (RT 1608) However, Lori said that she did not directly speak to Dr. Van Buren about the transplant. (RT 1589-90) In a May 1989 declaration that Lori signed, she maintained that a promise had been given by Dr. Van Buren's team at the Houston hospital that the transplant could be done without blood. (RT 1568-69)
PAGE 15: Dr. Unkel recalled that sometime prior to Casey's UCSF admission, Lori called to inform him that she was going to take Casey to UCSF. (RT 598-99) According to Dr. Unkel, Lori told him that the California transplant team had assured her that no blood would be used in the transplant. (RT 598-99).
PAGE 26: Dr. Unkel also recalled that Lori called him after Casey's surgery in an attempt to transfer Casey to Houston. (RT 599) Dr. Unkel explained that Lori told him that she wanted to transfer Casey because UCSF had lied to her and transfused Casey despite their assurances to the contrary. (RT 599)
IN THE MATTER OF WILLIAMS was a 2009 Wyoming Supreme Court decision in which Wyoming's Supreme Court ruled as did the Missouri Supreme Court in 2007 in its own WILCUT decision (summarized below), that is, unless the treating physician is willing to testify that it was a 100% guaranteed certainty that the injured JW Employee would have lived if the JW Wife would have consented to disallowed blood transfusions, then the WC Insurer must pay statutory WC Benefits to the JW Widow.
Capitol City Maintenance, Inc. apparently was a family-owned janitorial business located in Cheyenne, Wyoming. On February 9, 2006, the 67 year old father, Howard W. Williams, was riding to a job site in Laramie, Wyoming in an automobile driven by his wife Sharon Williams, when Sharon Williams lost control of the car and the automobile rolled several times. Both Williams were seriously injured, and both were subsequently transported by ambulance to United Medical Center in Cheyenne.
Howard W. Williams exhibited signs of internal injuries with massive internal bleeding. Sharon Williams' injuries were less severe than were Howard Williams' injuries, and she was alert and able to converse with medical personnel. Both Williams indicated that they were Jehovah's Witnesses and, as such, they did not want any blood products used in the treatment of Mr. Williams. However, when asked about the use of albumin and the use of a Cell Saver, which simply cleanses the individual's own blood, the Williams were ignorant of whether the WatchTower Society permits the use of such, so the Williams told hospital personnel not to use either procedure until they could first ask their son, Howard Williams. (Their son was President of Capitol City Maintenance, Inc.)
The Williams' Son eventually arrived at the hospital and consented to the Cell Saver procedure. Based on information garnered from CT Scans, Dr. Parnell decided that an emergency splenectomy was necessary. Dr. Parnell informed the Williams' son that "the decision not to allow any blood products, including whole blood, packed red blood cells, plasma, and/or platelets, cryoprecipitate, etc, may indeed make it very difficult to resuscitate and manage" his father. The Son indicated that he understood his father's dire situation, so the emergency surgery was performed without the use of any blood products.
Howard W. Williams' damaged spleen was split into two pieces, and Williams had lost five liters of blood. Dr. Parnell removed Williams' damaged spleen and re-transfused two liters of Williams' own blood back into him using the Cell Saver. After the surgery, Williams was taken to ICU, where his condition deteriorated even further. Despite aggressive fluid resuscitation efforts, Williams remained hypotensive, and his low blood pressure continued to drop from 65/34 into the 30s and 40s. Williams died at 6:36 p.m., after his heart stopped from lack of blood pressure.According to Dr. Parnell, Williams essentially bled to death.
Thereafter, Sharon Williams filed a claim for death benefits and funeral expenses with the Wyoming Workers' Safety and Compensation Division. In March 2006, WWSCD denied her claim for the reason that the "medical documentation submitted to the Division indicates the cause of death was due to the refusal of reasonable and necessary medical care." Wyoming law states, in part:
If an injured employee knowingly engages or persists in an unsanitary or injurious practice which tends to imperil or retard his recovery, or if he refuses to submit to medical or surgical treatment reasonably essential to promote his recovery, he forfeits all right to compensation under this act.
Williams objected to the denial and requested a Hearing. In December 2006, the Hearing Examiner ultimately determined that Sharon Williams was not entitled to benefits, agreeing with the WWSCD that Mr. Williams had forfeited all right to Worker's Compensation benefits by refusing to allow the use of foreign blood products to treat his splenic injury:
The Division has proved, by a preponderance of the evidence, that Mr. Williams "refused to submit to medical or surgical treatment reasonably essential to promote his recovery."The medical reports indicate that Mr. Williams was alert enough to converse with Dr. Parnell when he came into the emergency room. The reports are undisputed that Mr. Williams told Dr. Parnell that he did not want any blood products and that Dr. Parnell should wait until his son arrived before using the Cell Saver. ... Therefore, Mr. Williams clearly "refused to submit to medical or surgical treatment." Although Dr. Parnell never stated or noted that the use of blood products were reasonably essential to promote [Mr. Williams'] recovery, Dr. Parnell's deposition testimony and consultation report disclose the essential nature of blood products in treating Mr. William's [sic] injury. In her Consultation Report, Dr. Parnell reveals the importance of the use of blood products when she described her conversation with Williams' son: I spoke quite frankly that the decision not to allow any blood products including whole blood, packed red blood cells, plasma, and/or platelets, cryoprecipitate, etc, may indeed make it very difficult to resuscitate and manage the patient. ... In addition, Dr. Parnell stated in her deposition testimony, she would have used blood products if she had been permitted, the use of blood products would have benefited and assisted Mr. Williams and it would have increased Mr. Williams' likelihood for survival. Dr. Parnell put it quite succinctly when she stated, I agree with your statement that his odds of survival would have improved had I had all the arrows in my quiver. The importance of treating Mr. Williams' injury with blood products is also demonstrated by Dr. Brausch's Consultation Report which states, [w]e are all afraid that the patient is dying and we have used the resources we are allowed to use to their fullest extent.
Although this case falls more squarely within the second prong of Wyo. Stat. [Ann.] 27-14-407 ... a refusal to submit to reasonably essential medical or surgical treatment ... the facts also support a conclusion that Mr. Williams knowingly engaged in an injurious practice which tended to imperil or retard his recovery, the first prong of the statute. The Wyoming Supreme Court stated, [t]he unambiguous language of 27-14-407 requires that a showing be made that an employee has engaged in some action or activity which tends to impact his recovery. Mr. Williams' knowing refusal to allow blood products was an action which tended to impact his recovery. According to Dr. Parnell, that action decreased his chances for survival. A refusal or failure to take action may amount to an injurious practice. ...
Mr. Williams forfeited all right to compensation under the Worker's Compensation Act because his refusal to allow the use of blood products to treat his lacerated spleen was, (1) an injurious practice tending to impact his recovery, and (2) a refusal to submit to medical or surgical treatment reasonably essential to promote his recovery.
Thereafter, Sharon Williams sought review in Wyoming's court system. The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc., sought and obtained permission to participate in the court case as "amicus curiae", and endeavored to challenge the constitutionality of the statute as applied to Mr. Williams' refusal to accept blood products. In April 2009, the Wyoming Supreme Court ruled in favor of Sharon Williams, stating in part:
... By this statute, the legislature has established two forms of conduct by which a claimant forfeits compensation. First, compensation is forfeited if a claimant "engages or persists in an unsanitary or injurious practice which tends to imperil or retard his recovery." Second, compensation is forfeited if a claimant "refuses to submit to medical or surgical treatment reasonably essential to promote his recovery." In the instant case, the hearing examiner determined Mr. Williams had engaged in both forms of conduct by "his refusal to allow the use of blood products to treat his lacerated spleen."
In order to work a forfeiture of benefits for engaging or persisting in an unsanitary or injurious practice which tends to imperil or retard his recovery:
'... proof of more than a mere possibility is required . ... We caution that more is required than proof of a mere potential for harm or a possibility of harm; there must be proof that the worker's acts were not benign, but did, in some way, contribute to recovery problems. ...'
The proof in the instant case does not rise beyond a suggestion of the possibility of harm by the refusal to allow the use of foreign blood products. The critical evidence is Dr. Parnell's testimony. While she testified Mr. Williams would have had a better chance of survival with a transfusion of appropriate blood products, she never quantified his chance of survival in either event. Indeed, she repeatedly testified that she could not say whether Mr. Williams would have survived had blood products been transfused. For example, she testified Mr. Williams' injuries "could be fatal, despite our best efforts" and opined "whether or not he would have survived with or without blood products, I don't know that I can say." This testimony does not support a determination that Mr. Williams engaged in a practice that, in some way, contributed to his demise.
For the same evidentiary reasons, the hearing examiner's determination that Mr. Williams refused to submit to medical or surgical treatment reasonably essential to promote his recovery also fails. The evidence in the record portrays a situation where Mr. Williams was critically injured and did not arrive at the hospital for an extended period of time. He had already lost a great deal of blood by the time he reached the hospital. He ultimately died. Dr. Parnell could not say that "this entire process would have been reversible." Therefore, under the specific facts of this case, the acceptance of the transfusion of blood products cannot be deemed to be "reasonably essential" to Mr. Williams' survival.
One WSC Judge dissented, in part:
I respectfully dissent. The underlying facts are not in dispute, and there is not even a question as to whether the employee refused to submit to medical or surgical treatment. Of course he did. The only question is whether the treatment he refused was "reasonably essential to promote his recovery." While the treating physician understandably was not willing to say that the employee's refusal to accept blood products, and his delay of surgery until his son's arrival, were the difference between life and death, she said everything just short of that. In that regard, it must be remembered that the statutory test, established by the legislature as the test to be applied in these situations, is not whether the refused treatment would have saved the employee's life. Rather, the test is, as just stated, whether the refused treatment was "reasonably essential to promote his recovery."
I will not repeat at length the portions of Dr. Parnell's medical reports and testimony set forth in the majority opinion, but will note a few points that I believe clearly show that the refused treatment was just what the statute has in mind. Dr. Parnell's initial impressions included the observation that the employee "obviously" was suffering from "free intraabdominal bleeding." Dr. Parnell told the employee's son upon his eventual arrival that "the decision not to allow blood products, including whole blood, packed red blood cells, plasma, and/or platelets, cryoprecipitate, etc, may indeed make it very difficult to resuscitate and manage [the employee]." Because she was limited to the use of Cell Saver, Dr. Parnell was able to re-transfuse only two liters of the employee's blood, even though he had massive intraabdominal bleeding and had lost five liters of blood. It was Dr. Parnell's opinion that the employee essentially bled to death. ... ...
"No compensation shall be payable for the death or disability of an employee, if and insofar as the death or disability may be caused, continued or aggravated by any unreasonable refusal to submit to any medical or surgical treatment or operation, the risk of which is, in the opinion of the division or the commission, inconsiderable in view of the seriousness of the injury. If the employee dies as a result of an operation made necessary by the injury, the death shall be deemed to be caused by the injury."
"Finally, contrary to dependent's assertions, this case is not about an individual's freedom to exercise his or her religion. This case is about who should bear the consequences resultant from the exercise of one's religion. Under the facts of this case, the employee's dependent must bear the consequences of employee's decision to strictly observe a tenet of his religion."
"Under this interpretation of [Missouri law], we analyze whether the Commission's decision was supported by competent and substantial evidence. Upon review, there was no question that Employee's beliefs were sincere. His family and church elders testified about his good standing with the Jehovah's Witnesses and his personal belief in this particular tenet of the faith. This is evidenced further by his willingness to die in the face of several medical professionals advocating a blood transfusion to recover from his injuries.
"We find that the Commission failed to adequately accommodate Employee's religious beliefs in its decision. While it did recite some of Employee's beliefs, these beliefs received no deference in the final decision. Instead, the Commission followed Martin and found that Employee's decision was a voluntary one and broke the causation between his accident and his death. The Commission's reliance on Martin, however, is misplaced at best. In addition to being a case from outside this jurisdiction, Martin was expressly overruled in Montgomery v. Board of Retirement, ... . The court in Montgomery found that the court's reasoning in Martin was not consistent with the United States Supreme Court's and California courts' interpretations of the constitutional right to freely exercise religion, and the court refused to follow Martin. ...
"The Commission's disregard for Employee's religious beliefs is evident in its short analysis of Employee's claim under [Missouri law]. The Commission stated that Employee did not refuse the transfusion in order to treat his injuries; it stated that he instead refused 'for the purpose of complying with a religious edict so he could remain free of sin.' Further, when addressing his claim that he was denied free exercise of his religion, the Commission stated that Employee had to bear the weight of strictly observing his religion. These statements demonstrate that the Commission believed that a religious reason, no matter how strongly held, would not be enough to justify compensation under [Missouri law]. In determining what was unreasonable, it relied not only on the question of whether an employee gravely injured in a work-related accident had refused treatment that likely would have benefited him, but also on its conclusion that Employee could have asked for atonement for his sins.
"We hold that the Commission's decision was not supported by competent and substantial evidence. The statutory scheme dictates that religious beliefs be liberally considered, and we find that Employee invoked his strong and sincerely held religious beliefs against a transfusion. This refusal was not unreasonable in light of his beliefs, and Dependent is owed death benefits from the date that the benefits were terminated."
However, the more intelligent dissenting Judge disagreed, stating in part:
"This case is not about the exercise of a religious belief - it is about money. The majority opinion confuses the manner of our review and imposes an amorphous standard that is not compelled by Constitution or statute and is not consistent with a court's duty to avoid an analysis of another's religious beliefs.
"Initially, the testimony is clear - a blood transfusion and Mr. Wilcut would have survived. This refusal was not a 'complication,' as the majority suggests. Simply, Mr. Wilcut and his family exercised their religious beliefs - the employer did not seek judicial intervention, nor did the State, to compel a transfusion. As such, there is no religious conundrum for this Court to tackle.... ...
"... To even engage in this discussion violates clear principles set out by the United States Supreme Court and the Missouri Supreme Court, in both free exercise cases and establishment cases - courts are to stay removed from denominational doctrine. Courts have an affirmative Constitutional duty to avoid predestination, transubstantiation, and blood transfusions. The Court engages in a Lewis Carroll exercise - under which if an Atheist or Methodist refused a blood transfusion, the Court would, I assume, find this 'unreasonable.'"
In November 2007, this case was heard by the Missouri Supreme Court. In December 2007, the Missouri Supreme Court sent the case back to the Court of Appeals, which apparently finalized its previous ruling in January 2008. Outcome is unknown, but it will be assumed that the Commission was directed to determine how much money was owed to the Wilcut family, and the Employer's insurance company probably has cut the check by now.
"As a result of the severity of the amputation of his arms, claimant was unable to use prosthetic arm devices."
DIAZ v. WEILL MEDICAL COLLEGE OF CORNELL UNIVERSITY was a 2004 federal case filed in New York by a Jehovah's Witness named Migdalia Diaz. Diaz brought this Title VII action against her former employer, Weill Medical College of Cornell University, alleging that she was (1) discriminated against due to her religion (Jehovah's Witness) and national origin (Puerto Rican), and (2) fired in retaliation for filing a New York State Division of Human Rights complaint.
Diaz was hired by the medical school as a secretary in 1988, and Diaz continued to work as a secretary in a number of different departments until she was fired in January 2002. The employment relationship appears to have gone well until November 1998, but went downhill thereafter. According to Diaz, her co-workers knew she was a Jehovah's Witness. Diaz used vacation time to attend Jehovah's Witness's conventions each summer and "sometimes" told her supervisors the reason for her vacation request. Around the Easter and Passover holidays, Diaz would explain that Jehovah's Witnesses did not celebrate such, but instead celebrated the "Memorial of Jesus Christ's death". When Diaz's co-workers held birthday or Christmas parties, Diaz did not participate and informed her co-workers that she did not because those celebrations are "pagan" and "offensive to Jehovah."
In November 1998, Diaz needed surgery. While discussing the impending surgery with her supervisor, Diaz mentioned that she had signed paperwork refusing any blood transfusions. The supervisor made a remark to the effect that refusing blood transfusions lead to the death of Jehovah's Witnesses. Diaz told her supervisor that she did not appreciate her "mocking" remark. (Of course, Diaz's telling her co-workers that their birthday's and holiday's celebrations were "pagan" and "offensive to God" were "witnessing" - not "mocking".) A custodian also questioned Diaz about her refusal to take a blood transfusion, and Diaz told the custodian about all the problems blood transfusions might cause. The custodian relayed such to Diaz's supervisor and the department chairman (a physician and professor) in the medical school, who refuted Diaz's claims, which was relayed back to Diaz. After Diaz returned to work in January 1999, she started to have problems with the department chairman, who probably was himself offended that a secretary in his department was presenting herself to co-workers as more knowledgeable about medical matters than the professionals for whom she performed clerical duties. Thereafter, Diaz started to take offense on multiple occasions. Diaz was offended when she was required to set up before and clean up after birthday and holidays parties. Diaz was offended when she was complimented on her coffee. Diaz stated that requiring her to clean and make coffee was treating her as an "immigrant house servant". Despite such, Diaz was given positive reviews until July 2001, when her job performance had deteriorated to the point that multiple issues could no longer be overlooked. Diaz's alleged "attitude" was causing repeated problems with both co-workers and supervisors; including yelling at her supervisor, and refusing to perform errands and other tasks.
In mid 2001, Diaz hired an attorney, and initiated complaints of discrimination with Weill. In July 2001, Diaz filed a complaint with the New York State Division of Human Rights, alleging employment discrimination on the basis of age, race, and religion origin. DHR dismissed Diaz's complaint in April 2002. The day that Weill terminated Diaz's employment, January 15, 2002, Diaz filed a second DHR complaint, this time alleging retaliation for her July 2001 DHR complaint. DHR dismissed that second complaint in June 2002. Diaz filed this federal lawsuit in September 2002. In February 2004, the USDC summarily dismissed Diaz's lawsuit.
KLASSY v. PHYSICIANS PLUS INSURANCE CO. is a 2004 federal lawsuit filed by Jehovah's Witnesses Jim and Barbra Klassy against Physicians Plus Insurance Co., which provided managed care services to their HMO. Physicians Plus authorized the performance of a surgical revision of the wife's former hip replacement by a plan physician, but no plan physician was willing to perform a "bloodless surgery". The Klassyes wanted this special procedure due to their Watchtower beliefs, which prohibits blood transfusions. A blood transfusion would be necessary under the regular procedure only if something abnormal happened during surgery. Physicians Plus refused to authorize payment to an more expensive out-of-network physician simply to avoid a "possibility". The Klassyes traveled from their home in Wisconsin to Arkansas in order to have the "bloodless surgery" performed.
The Klassyes brought suit against Physicians Plus in state court asserting six state law claims, including the tort of bad faith insurance claim denial, medical malpractice, breach of contract, breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, estoppel, and negligence. The Klassyes also alleged a violation of Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964. Physicians Plus had the case removed to federal district court, which ruled the state law claims were completely preempted by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA), and were properly subject to dismissal. Physicians Plus's decision not to pay for an out-of-network bloodless hip surgery was held to be a pure eligibility decision that had to be challenged under ERISA, or not at all. Physicians Plus's decision in no way involved issues of proper treatment. The district court held that the decision whether an insurance plan covers an operation performed in such a fashion as to accommodate a patient's interpretation of the Bible does not involve assessing the patient's symptoms and their proper treatment. The Klassyes were granted leave by the district court to amend their complaint to allege a violation of ERISA, but in such a case, the proper defendants was not Physicians Plus, but the HMO. Finally, the district court dismissed the Klassy's federal law claim for religious discrimination under Title VII, because Physicians Plus was not the Klassy's employer within the meaning of the statute. Although the district court then gave the Klassy's the opportunity to amend their complaint to state a claim under ERISA, they instead appealed the district court's decision. On appeal, the Klassyes challenged only the district court's holding that the wife's medical malpractice claim against Physicians Plus was completely preempted by ERISA. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that because the sole issue was one of eligibility, the state claims were preempted by ERISA. To the extent that Physicians Plus improperly denied coverage of the bloodless hip surgery, the Klassyes could have sought reimbursement in an ERISA action, but because they instead opted to pursue a state law claim that was preempted by ERISA, the district court properly dismissed their complaint.
In August 1992, a forty-seven year old Jehovah's Witness named John Richard Alson died in the Emergency Room of San Joaquin General Hospital due to Alson's and his wife's refusal to allow doctors to administer a blood transfusion. Alson was a city employee of Manteca, California. He was a mechanic for the city of Manteca and had been repairing a garbage truck when his leg became trapped between the cab and the compactor. The severe loss of blood was due to the main artery in his left leg being severed during an on-the-job accident.
In April 1993, the Alson's wife filed a wrongful death lawsuit alleging that the surgeons at the hospital failed to take adequate measures to prevent excessive bleeding during the surgery given their knowledge that a blood transfusion could not be administered. Outcome unknown.
In October 1980, a Jehovah's Witness named Steve Czirok Sr., 56, of Akron, Ohio, was seriously injured while on the job at Core System Inc. Czirok's left foot became entangled in a conveyor system, and was practically severed from Czirok's left leg. Upon arrival at Akron General Medical Center, Czirok announced that he was a Jehovah's Witness and would not consent to needed blood transfusion, even though he had lost nearly three pints of blood. Doctors went ahead in what eventually amounted to an eight hours long surgery attempting to re-attach the foot. At some point, the surgery was stopped while a telephone call was made to family members in an attempt to get them to consent to a needed transfusion.
Steve Czirok Jr. and other JW family members refused to consent, so the hospital continued to do the best they could. The foot was re-attached, but it was unknown whether part or all would eventually have to be amputated due to the severe loss of blood. Steve Czirok Sr. survived the work accident, but outcome of the re-attached foot and or leg is unknown.
In June 1977, a Jehovah's Witness Construction Worker, named Melvin Victor Sousa, 24, of Modesto, California, died two days after falling approximately 30-35 feet, while he and a co-worker were installing trusses during the construction of a movie theater. The initial newspaper report disclosed that a doctor had predicted the day of the accident that Sousa would die from excessive blood loss, because the unconscious Sousa was a JW, and his JW family refused to consent to the needed blood transfusions. Interestingly, the Coroner's autopsy report officially stated that Sousa died from "head injuries" received in the fall. Although it was the coroner's office who initially tipped off the newspaper to the transfusion issue, no mention of such was in its' own final report.
More interestingly, Sousa's 40 year-old co-worker -- 16 years older than Melvin Sousa -- who fell from essentially the same spot, and who also received serious head injuries, was reported to be in "good condition" at the time of Sousa's death. Sousa left behind a wife, Angelica Sousa, a 6 weeks-old daughter, Olivia Rae Sousa, and parents, Mr/Mrs Louie Sousa.
On July 5, 1976, in Bridgeport, Connecticut, a Jehovah's Witness named Janice E. Goodwin, 22, was riding on a parade float as an employee representative of the Bank of Stratford, when she fell through a hole in the float and was run over by one of the wheels. Bridgeport Hospital sought and obtained a court order to be allowed to administer any transfusions that might become necessary in the surgery needed to repair her fractured pelvis and lacerated urethra. Supposedly, no transfusions were needed.
BARNES v. RICHARDSON was a 1970 Oregon federal case involving a Jehovah's Witness named David Barnes. Barnes was a USPS employee who sustained a ruptured spinal disc and was unable to continue working. He began receiving Social Security benefits, but was told that a laminectomy offered an 80 to 90 percent change of recovery. Barnes refused to undergo the surgery, because a blood transfusion might be needed during surgery. When Barnes benefits were terminated, Barnes sued claiming that his religious rights were being violated.
Interestingly, Barnes argument was rejected based on the fact that when he first rejected surgery, he was not an "active" Jehovah's Witness. His association with the Jehovah's Witnesses had been an on-again off-again relationship, so the district court felt that his fear of surgery and doctors was generalized and unjustified. This is a good example of how a court may not tread into the arena of interpreting beliefs, but a court is permitted to judge if an adherent is "sincere" in their belief.
In June 1958, 19 year-old Phillip Peace was involved in a terrible accident at a WatchTower Society owned property. Phillip had grew in in Cincinnati, Ohio, and was the son of a Jehovah's Witness couple, named Mr/Mrs William Peace. Evidently, Phillip had applied to do volunteer work for the WatchTower Society as soon as he had turned 19. Phillip was accepted, and he was assigned to work on one of the WatchTower-owned farms in New Jersey.
One summer day as he was forking hay into a baling machine, Peace somehow fell into the machine feet first. Both legs were crushed past his knees, and most of the flesh was stripped away from his bones. It took two co-workers and a passing highway patrol officer nearly an hour just to extricate Peace from the hay baler. The blood loss must have been massive, and Peace was fortunate to even make it to Hunterdon County Medical Center, where emergency surgery was performed. Does anyone believe that given this scenario that Peace was not given multiple blood transfusions on arrival and during the surgery?
The report simply indicates that after Peace regained consciousness that he refused to consent to a blood transfusion. The hospital then contacted his parents in Cincinnati, and they too refused to give their consent. There is little doubt in my mind that he would not have survived long enough to have had the chance to refuse a transfusion but-for the fact that he had already received multiple.
Five weeks later, just before the opening of the 1958 WatchTower Convention, a news conference was arranged at the hospital, which featured Phillip, his parents, and his 7 year-old brother, Alan Peace. Phillip's left leg had been amputated, and his right leg was "in a cast", with nothing else reported as to its' condition. The AP headline was, "WITNESS REFUSED BLOOD AND IS NOW RECOVERED". While much was made of Peace's refusal after he regained consciousness, and his "quick recovery" sufficient to attend both the Convention and his Bethelite brother's upcoming wedding, this AP article, as was true of previous articles, did not state that no blood transfusions were ever administered to Peace.
In June 1963, 19 year-old Keith T. Campbell drowned at apparently the same WatchTower Society Farm in New Jersey. Keith Campbell had been assigned to the farm for only three weeks before he drowned. Campbell's Jehovah's Witness Parents, J. Tyler and Loleta Buck Campbell, of Canandaigua, New York, told local reporters that they received the notice of their son's death from WatchTower HQ without any specific explanation of how the drowning had occurred, plus, in accordance with WatchTower HQ rules, the funeral and internment were conducted in NYC. Keith Campbell had been a Bethelite only since September 1962. Keith Campbell was survived by brothers Bruce Campbell and Richard H. Campbell.
MARTIN v. INDUSTRIAL ACCIDENT COMMISSION, ET AL was a 1956 California lawsuit filed by the widow and children of Charles Martin, a Jehovah's Witness who sustained serious injuries, including a ruptured spleen, when the scaffold upon which he was working suddenly collapsed. At the hospital, Martin and his wife were advised that an operation would be necessary and that a transfusion of whole blood was necessary and should be administered. Martin and his wife advised the hospital authorities and the attending physician that a transfusion of blood was against their religious beliefs and that if it was a question of permitting a blood transfusion or dying, Martin would choose death. Martin and his wife signed the following statement prior to surgery: "I, Charles Martin, refuse to have a transfusion of blood, even tho it may mean the loss of my life, because of my religious beliefs." Surgery was performed using blood plasma and other substitutes for whole blood. The spleen was removed, but Martin went into acute shock. The attending physician ordered a blood transfusion, but the hospital refused based upon the signed statement. Mr. Martin died shortly thereafter.
The Industrial Accident Commission denied Worker's Compensation benefits. The applicable statute at that time said no compensation was due to an employee whose death or disability is caused by "unreasonable refusal to submit to medical treatment, or to any surgical treatment, if the risk of the treatment is, in the opinion of the commission, based upon expert medical or surgical advice inconsiderable in view of the seriousness of the injury." The court agreed, and Mrs. Martin and children received no benefits. Its my guess that that statute has since been revised.
The following Canadian lawsuit is included since Canada's discrimination laws are the same/similar as those in the U.S. In 1973, Wilson, a registered nurse, started working at the Peterborough Civic hospital. From 1976 to 1981, she worked in ICU, where one of her duties was hanging blood for blood transfusions. In 1977, Wilson converted to the Jehovah's Witnesses. By 1980, she had come to the conclusion that hanging blood was an "unclean act" that was strictly prohibited by God. From 1980 to the middle of 1981, she refused to hang blood, and always asked other nurses to fulfill this duty for her. However, two of her colleagues eventually refused to accommodate her, and although she was eventually able to find a nurse willing to do this task, she was obliged to disclose the incident to her supervisor. When Wilson stated that she would continue to refuse to hang blood, the hospital fired her. An arbitrator ruled that the hospital had discriminated against Wilson, and that it had failed in its duty to "accommodate" her religious beliefs. To accommodate Wilson, the hospital should have placed her in a ward other than the emergency and intensive care units, and provided her with documentation alerting her co-workers that she has been relieved of the duty to hang blood. Since the hospital did nothing to accommodate Mrs. Wilson, its requirement that all nurses hang blood is not a bona fide occupational requirement, and the discrimination against Mrs. Wilson is illegal under Canadian Human Rights Law.