A Montgomery County woman near death after childbirth was given blood transfussions yesterday, despite her objections on religious grounds, after a county judge rushed to Shady Grove Adventist Hospital at 2:30 a.m. and signed a court order allowing the procedure.
Circuit Judge John F. McAuliffe, awakened by hospital officials at his home, signed an order allowing the hospital to givearsha Fuentes, 28, a Jehovah's Witness. It was the second time in a decade that McAuliffe has ordered a blood ishes of a Jehovah's Witness.
According to hospital reports and court papers, Fuentes suffered severe bleeds after giving birth to a healthy boy--her fifth child--Tuesday evening. Fuentes had lost about half her blood awas near zero, the court records stated.
Fuentes was alert when the complications developed and agreed to u according to court papers. But because of her religious beliefs, in which blood is regarded as "a gift of God blood transfusion.
Hospital lawyers filed court papers saying that Fuentes and her husband, Frank Fuentes ase form stating that she refused to accept blood despite her understanding that death could result in some circumstances without a transfusion.
When Fuentes' condition continueriorate early yesterday, doctors called hospital attorney Robert G. Brewer Jr., who telephoned McAuliffe at hoMcAuliffe spoke with doctors and nurses involved in the case, and gave his approval to Dr. Paul Feldman over te to the Shady Grove hospital, between Gaithersburg and Rockville, and wrote his court order by hand on a yelloperated on Fuentes. Fuentes was given transfusions at about 5 a.m., after the operation, when doctors reported that her condition had worsened considerably.
Yesterday evening, Fuentes was listed in stable condition in the hosp unit. Neither she nor her husband could be reached for comment.
Brewer, whose law firm represents several that one or two deaths occur every year at each major hospital after patients refuse blood transfusions on reManning, an elder of the Gaithersburg Jehovah's Witness Congregation to which the couple belonged, said Jehovay refuse blood transfusions because "blood is something sacred" to God, and "a symbol of his right to give life." They also refuse to eat meats that have not bef blood properly.
In refusing to accept blood transfusions, Manning said, the Fuentes were doing what "ever" would do in the same situation. "It's not a matter that we commit suicide," Manning added. "But there are tinot be as valuable as other things."
The religion does not forbid Jehovah's Witnesses from accepting medicaaid.
Manning also said that hospitals and courts normally respect a Jehovah's Witness' decision to refuse bvolving transfusions to children.
The crucial factor in the Fuentes case, Brewer said, was that the patientuld have suffered as a result of her death. Therefore the state had an interest in preserving the mother's lif Brewer said he called McAuliffe, rather than another judge, because he knew McAuliffe had been involved in a n that case, Hubert Hamilton, a 35-year-old Jehovah's Witness who had been shot in the chest, objected to bloous grounds. His wife and two brothers filed a petition asking that doctors be allowed to administer blood anyway.
McAuliffe, noting that Hamilton was the sole source ofor his 2-year-old child, ruled that blood should be given to save his life. Hamilton survived and 11 months lo rule that McAuliffe had violated his constitutional rights by ordering the transfusion. He also sought an orverything McAuliffe from intervening if he ever needed another blood transfusion.
Two years later, the Maryland Court of Appeals, the state's highest court, agreed with McAuliffe and declared Hamilton's case moot. The high court said Hamilton sought answers to "purely theoretical questions or questions that may never arise."