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Sunday 23 April 2017

Mother in blood row wanted 'coke and tomatoes'

Tim Healy

THE woman at the centre of the Jehovah's Witness blood transfusion case told the High Court yesterday she believed an alternative remedy of Coca Cola and tomatoes should have been given to her when she refused the transfusion.

The Congolese woman, known as Ms K, said in her native country, when people are faced with the type of blood loss she had, a remedy of cola and tomatoes was used.

She said her parents had used these products for other people because they contain iron and while they would not be as effective as a blood transfusion they "could have helped me little by little".

Ms K was giving evidence on the 31st day of an action by the Coombe Women's Hospital Dublin for a High Court order that it was entitled to apply in September 2006 for an injunction allowing it to transfuse her against her wishes after she had just given birth.

She had lost a great deal of blood and with her haemoglobin (red blood cell count) at a dangerously low level, she was in a life-or-death situation, the court has heard. Under cross-examination yesterday from Gerard Hogan, counsel for the hospital, Ms K said she had asked medical staff on the day for "coke and tomatoes" as an alternative to getting a transfusion.

Lucid

She said she was quite lucid in asking this and denied Mr Hogan's suggestion it showed she did not understand the gravity of the situation she was in.

"I knew quite well how serious the situation was and I knew I had to choose between life and death and that I needed to respect the laws of God," she said.

Ms K, speaking through a French interpreter, denied she was not rational and repeatedly said she had taken a personal decision, in accordance with the Bible, to abstain from blood products. She produced a Bible and quoted passage, Act 15, Chapter 29, which states: "That ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication; from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well. Fare ye well."

Under repeated questioning from Mr Hogan about whether the results of refusing transfusions were discussed during Kingdom Hall (Jehovah's Church) meetings, she said members were told to respect the Bible but the decision on blood is between themselves and Jehovah.

Crying

Earlier, Ms K, who broke down crying twice while giving evidence, agreed she had a private discussion about her medical history with a midwife in the hospital when she was asked if she had ever had a transfusion. She told the nurse she did not but did not say anything about not wanting a transfusion because, she said, the question was not asked.

Ms K admitted she had falsely stated to the Coombe that she was a Roman Catholic and had done so previously during a visit to another hospital. She denied Mr Hogan's suggestion she had placed the hospital and staff in "an impossible situation" by telling lies about her personal circumstances. She regretted she had not brought the issue of her faith to the hospital's attention earlier on but she believed doctors were there to advise and the patient must then decide.

She said she will be suing because, while she agreed they had saved her, they had failed in their duty to care for the whole of her "whole body".

The court also heard that Jehovahs carry a card intended to communicate transfusion refusals in emergency situations. Ms K said she did not have hers that day on the hospital but added, "it was not because of a card" that one is a Jehovah's Witness.

The hearing continues.

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