A judge in London has upheld a decision by NHS lawyers that a mentally-ill sex offender should be allowed to refuse a blood transfusion on the basis of his Jehovah’s Witness faith.
The 23-year-old prisoner, who has not been named, is being treated by Nottinghamshire Healthcare (NHS). While serving a five-year sentence for sexual assault, he had sustained a severe amount of blood loss after a self-harming incident that resulted in an open artery.
According to doctors, the man’s hemoglobin levels had fallen to an “extremely life-threatening level.” When doctors advised him he needed blood treatment the man refused due to adherence to Watchtower doctrine.
Though the man is being held in a mental health facility and has been described as having a “severe personality disorder” and a history of self-harm, lawyers for the NHS deemed him capable of making this choice and decided not to administer the transfusion against his will.
It has been decided that the state will not be held accountable for any future complications regarding this decision, even if it leads to the man’s death.
The patient adopted the Jehovah’s Witness faith only eight months ago and has decided to follow its teachings in this case. The man’s father, also a Jehovah’s Witness, has sided with his son, asking that his wishes be “respected.”
A source of much debate
Over the years, Jehovah’s Witnesses have come under much scrutiny when it comes to their approach towards blood transfusions. Multitudes of devout Witnesses have suffered and even died due to this doctrine.
Oftentimes the casualties have been children. But many cases have been recently publicized in which the Witness parents’ wishes have been ignored and the state has ordered life-saving treatment regardless.
This case offers a similar dilemma, since the man in question, although a recently-converted Witness, has been found to have severe mental illness. His condition raised questions as to whether he was of sound mind and therefore able to make such grave decisions. But the authorities have decided that indeed he was.
At the time of this article, no further news on the man’s condition or case has been released.
By Jeni Lundblom-Valdez