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June 8th, 2012
05:00 PM ET

Argentinian man's relatives battle over transfusion

By Rafael Romo, CNN

(CNN) -Relatives of a 38-year-old Argentinian man are fighting a legal battle over whether his religious beliefs should be allowed to trump doctors' recommendations that he be given a blood transfusion.

The life of Pablo Albarracini may hang in the balance.

Since early May, when he was shot six times during a robbery in which he was the victim, Albarracini has been hospitalized in critical condition in Buenos Aires. Though he was in a coma initially, that is no longer the case.

"He's not at risk of dying, but he could be at any moment in the event of some complication," said Jorge Albarracini about his son.

"Thank God that hasn't happened yet. But he needs to undergo several surgeries that will need blood. So I'm worried about the future. In three months or more, when they want to take the bullets out of his head and hip, which they have to do, they're going to think twice."

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The father said he is seeking to have a court void a will signed four years ago by his son that said he would not want any blood transfusions.

The patient's wife, Romina Carnevale, is also a Jehovah's Witness.

She has said she wants her husband's desires to be followed, regardless of the possible consequences.

Argentina's Supreme Court has ruled in her favor.

"A judicial ruling allowing an adult to be subjected to a medical treatment against his will would not be constitutionally justifiable,"the high court said. "Especially if the patient's will has been signed with his full knowledge and understanding and it doesn't affect others."

Some ethicists would argue that saving the patient's life should be paramount; international declarations of human rights have concluded the same, said Roberto Cambarieri of the Favaloro Foundation on Bioethics in Buenos Aires. "In this case, the Supreme Court has chosen to give priority to the principle of free will," he said.

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The conflict has heated in Argentina, especially after the death last month of another Jehovah's Witness who refused a blood transfusion.

The 35-year-old woman had pneumonia and died after 15 days in a hospital in northern Argentina.

In Britain in 2010, a 15-year-old who was hit by a car died after he did not receive a transfusion. The hospital said it had no right to override the minor's parental issues.

Last week in Australia, a court ordered a 4-year-old girl with leukemia to get a blood transfusion, despite opposition from the child's parents.

The church cites Acts 15:28-29 in the Bible, which says, "For the Holy Spirit and we ourselves have favored adding no further burden to you, except these necessary things, to keep abstaining from things sacrificed to idols and from blood and from things strangled and from fornication. If you carefully keep yourselves from these things, you will prosper."

The order that the Argentinian man's wishes be followed did not surprise Robert Veatch, a professor of medical ethics at the Kennedy Institute of Ethics at Georgetown University in Washington.

"We recognize the high value that we place on the rights of competent adults to be self-determining," he said. "As long as he didn't have children whose interests were seriously jeopardized, we would routinely, in Western medical ethics, make the same decision that the Argentine court made, which is to honor the patient's right of refusal."

But the court's reasoning may change in cases where children are involved, he said. "The logic is that, when you take on the duty of being a parent, you have certain responsibilities," Veatch said.

"You have to feed the child, you have to provide decent housing to the child, and if refusal of a medical treatment would lead to death, that - at least in some cases - has led the courts to say your duty to take care of your child overrides your right to refuse treatment."

And patients' desires may be disregarded in cases where they are considered incompetent.

"If a patient were mentally deranged while refusing treatment, then the patient would not be competent and wouldn't have the right to make decisions either for or against treatment," he said.

Though Albarracini has left explicit instructions, a patient's wishes are often absent. In such cases, the decision is typically left to the next of kin. In Albarracini's case, that would be his wife, Veatch said. It would be up to the court to determine whether the next
of kin is acting maliciously or unreasonably, he said.

Though the matter is under Argentinian law, "it would come out the same way in the United States," said George Annas, professor of health law, bioethics and human rights at Boston University.

"The next of kin, which is his spouse, is the person to make the decisions," he said. "Her job would be to try to make the same decision he would make if he could talk for himself. That would be the way the case should come out. Since he's not a child any more, his father really doesn't have any decision-making authority at all over him."

CNN's Tom Watkins contributed to this report.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Uncategorized

soundoff (159 Responses)
  1. Phyllis Withrow

    There is no coherent, consistent and widely accepted definition of alternative medicine. Often referred to as complementary and alternative medicine, or simply as CAM,alternative medicine resists easy definition because the health systems and practices to which it refers are diffuse and its boundaries are poorly defined.'`:'

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    <http://caramoantourpackage.com/

    June 7, 2013 at 7:37 am |
  2. Michael Reginald

    Dear Faithful ones of Jehovah , our time here on his side is spent to save the few that god draws ,we keep silent in a humble way and we carry on in our ministry , Jehovah will act against the wicked , those humbled will see his great power when Michael the Arc Angel does a total extermination of those who have not obeyed and continue to obey the good news of what we preach, Life everlasting is for those who hear gods word and apply. The world of wicked man do not understand Jehovah’s Wisdom because to him the wisdom of this world is foolish they all blinded by that powerful corrupted Demon Satan and his demons ….for there time is short lived,

    July 3, 2012 at 4:53 am |
  3. Bob

    You can research JW's own literature online now. They put up a "research" site at http://wol.jw.org. Perhaps that will give some people the answers they need/seek regarding what they believe. Even if you don't agree with it, at least you will know how they come to some conclusions.

    June 20, 2012 at 11:18 am |
  4. Bob

    Who cares what he believes. The issue he is what is being forced on him. If you decided you don't want a particular course of treatment, regardless of the outcome, you should have a right to make such a decision. No court should be allowed to force someone to take a course of treatment they don't want.

    June 20, 2012 at 11:12 am |
  5. What's an Argentinian? Try Argentine

    Come on CNN! There is no such thing as an Argentinian! Try Argentine! I would expect that at least the journalists at CNN would know this.

    June 18, 2012 at 12:56 pm |
  6. Angie

    To answer some questions raised:
    http://www.watchtower.org/e/t15/article_01.htm
    http://www.watchtower.org/e/medical_care_and_blood.htm
    A little research right from the source goes a long way in understanding others' motivations.

    June 16, 2012 at 7:06 pm |
    • Giacomo

      Angie
      Did you count your time for that comment? At least round it up to 15 min for you end of the month field service report.
      You can do some research too: http://www.jwfacts.com Do you know about the Watchtower / UN relationship...google that one.
      I used to be an elder until I found out I was in a cult!

      June 22, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
  7. Sylvia

    Religion cannot be left out of it as if this man accepts a transfusion he will lose in place on the long awaited earthy paradise and he will be disfellowshipped/shunned by all of his "true Christian" bible observing friends/ so called brothers and sisters. A living death or a real one. Rock and a hard place.
    The watchtower refers to it as “disassociating yourself” though. Nicely putting the blame onto a seriously ill person’s decision to want to stay alive. If he took blood those in his congregation would look down on his for having put himself before Jehovah’s laws. He would be marked, bad association.
    The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society have really perfected how to use peer pressure to make the masses conform to group think and action.
    He can have blood fractions though just not whole blood. Like eating only the orange peel whilst claiming to abstain from oranges.

    Be warned potential converts be warned. Do lots of research. This is one of many disturbing aspects of this religion.
    They recently paid out a massive $28 million as they lost the Fremont child molestation suit. Google Candace Conti and Jonathan David Kendrick

    June 16, 2012 at 11:04 am |
    • John

      You know, I read post like these and I wonder, why would ppl comment so negatively about JW's? I have come to realize that some ppl just don't care about what the bible says and only apply it when it is a convenience to them. Obviously to apply Bible principles in this situation shows a lot about what this Patient is made of. He can easily say "Yes give me blood" and probably he would live longer, but then what? he ruins he Relationship with God first an for most and also he looses his relationship with his fellow believers because he voluntarily disobeyed God, not because he made a mistake and wont do it again (that is totally different). That is not showing true integrity to God. If ppl would actually wake up from the spiritual sleep they are in, they will realize that following what the bible says in every situation in life is the best way to go even if that means dying for it. Because we live not for this life (which is temporary) but we live knowing that there is something better awaiting us. that is showing true integrity. Just like Jesus, Paul, Job and all other faithful servants of Jehovah. We are dominated by selfish desires and unfortunately not many ppl will have the determination to keep there relationship with Jehovah clean from things that would otherwise taint it.

      June 22, 2012 at 11:22 am |
    • David

      The Witnesses did not pay out $28 million in the case involving Candice Conti. As articles pointed out, the lawyer denied that the Witnesses protect pedophiles and keep allegations "secret". And the case will be appealed. The fact is that the Witnesses have a very strong policy against child abusers and will expel unrepentant pedophiles from their congregation, publicly annoucing their names in the congregation. (see http://thirdwitness.com/childabuse/default.html). There strong policy against child abusers explains why it is very rare that such abuse occurs in the Christian Congregation when compared to other groups.
      With regards to blood transfusions, the topic on hand, Jehovah's Christian Witnesses believe it is a sin to eat or transfuse blood based on their understaning of Bible texts such as Gen. 9:3-5 and Acts 15:19,20, 28, 29. As Christians they believe they must "abstain from blood". Not that they want to die...they do seek alternative treatments to blood transfusions, many of which are available and used in hospital throughout the world. However, like the early 1st century Christians who were killed for refusing to drink blood, Witnesses will obey what they believe is God's.

      June 25, 2012 at 8:33 am |
  8. madmaninthemiddle

    I'm curious. Is it ok if it's his own blood? They could start stockpiling it now for future use.
    Also, is it true that JWs believe that only 144,000 people will make it into heaven? I've heard that, but I don't know if it's credible. If it is, my next question is, aren't there more than that number of practioners of this faith? So I should join a church that tells me to live by these very strict edicts, but understand I still might not make the cut? This can't be right, can it?

    June 13, 2012 at 2:39 am |
    • Tbay

      Quick answers: no, JW's can't stock up on their own blood. Once blood leaves the body it is supposed to be poured out. I'd recommend going to the Watchtower.org site for more info on that. That site is the official JW site and there is a lot of information that subject.
      As for the 144,000... yes, the JW's believe that only 144,000 will go to heaven to rule with Christ over the earth. The rest of righteous mankind would be on earth. The Lord's prayer teaches us to pray for God's kingdom to come and his will to be done on earth. God's original plan was for all mankind to be on earth. Jesus said that the meek shall inherit the earth. In fact, the majority of the bible points to a cleansed earth as being the reward for righteous mankind. Daniel 2:44 talks about God's kingdom crushing all earthly governments and then ruling forever.

      There are 7 million JW's and the vast majority of them don't plan or even want to go to heaven.

      But the next time a JW knocks, feel free to get more information.

      June 13, 2012 at 8:36 am |
    • madmaninthemiddle

      Thank you. When all this happens, will those on earth have eternal life?

      June 14, 2012 at 2:52 am |
    • Tbay

      Yes – that was God's original plan... perfect people living forever on a perfect earth. That plan hasn't changed, it was only delayed.

      June 14, 2012 at 8:02 am |
    • ViperGuy

      Just to clarify, storing blood would be in violation of Genesis 9:4, to not eat blood. Eating blood includes consuming it in any way. Allowable exceptions would include dialysis, where the flow of blood is temporarily diverted but not stored. In essence, the dialysis machine becomes an extension of the body's bloodstream, so that would be up to the individual's conscience to decide.

      Also to clarify a slight oversight on words in the above comment. (Not to criticize the answer, just to exemplify it.) It was God's "Purpose" for the Earth to be inhabited as a Paradise. (Psalms 37:11,29) God doesn't plan, plans can change, but he always purposes. (Ephesians 3:11) Therefore, his "will" or "purposes" never change, only in this case it was temporarily delayed when Satan tricked Adam and Eve into sinning. Jesus asked in the model prayer for God's "will" or purpose to take place in Heaven and also upon the Earth. (Matthew 6:10)

      June 16, 2012 at 12:14 pm |
  9. Danny

    I have found this list of hospitals that do Surgery with out Blood

    http://www.noblood.org/content/bloodless-medicine-surgery-hospital-directory-259#.T9eG-VIbJmw

    June 12, 2012 at 2:16 pm |
    • Michael Dean

      So you are saying no one ever needed a blood transfusion before? Blood transfusions have never saved a single life? My father took a blood transfusion. If he hadn't have taken the blood transfusion, I would not exist.
      Are you saying my father is a bad man and it would have been better for him to reject the blood and die than to accept the blood? Are you saying I should apologize for being alive cuz a blood transfusion gave my father life?
      Should my father ask for forgiveness from God for sinning? Should he offer his 9 children up as a sacrifice since none of them should have ever come to exist?

      June 12, 2012 at 9:56 pm |
    • Tbay

      Thanks for that reply Danny. A lot of people feel that patients only have 2 options... blood or no blood. But as these hospital are proving, there are almost always other options. What is surprising is how many non-JW's are taking choosing to go with non-blood options in these facilities. And many of them are doctors and medical professionals.
      While it is true that the main reason JW's won't take blood is based on religion, there are actually health benefits as well.

      June 13, 2012 at 8:48 am |
  10. Danny

    This is one of Many Hospitals that do No Blood Surgery and have seen the Benifits by doing so. Do your Home work and you can find the adequate help with out blood.
    Santiago Hospital Clinico de la Universidad de Chile (562) 223-2309
    http://www.redclinica.cl/

    June 12, 2012 at 1:52 pm |
    • Michael Dean

      Why would a Hospital in Chile have a number in Long Beach California? 562 is MY area code in Long Beach and surrounding cities.

      June 12, 2012 at 9:36 pm |
  11. Brampt

    Millions of people consider it to be an honor to die for a country in a war, every year people celebrate the Remembrance Day as a day thousands made what they call the "ultimate sacrifice". Why cant a man decide to obey Gods commands, knowing that God can bring him back to life in the future??
    Many people criticize JW but the fact is that JW are the only Chrisitan group trying there best to do Gods will mean while the other called "christians" do only Gods will when is convenient for them. The others always call upon Jesus, but dont really do what he commends.

    June 11, 2012 at 4:55 pm |
    • Michael Dean

      My God can JWs be any more predictable? OK so we have the "WELL-YOU-GUYS-GO-TO-WAR -SO-WE- GET- TO- KILL- OUR- PEOPLE- IN- HOSPITALS -WHAT'S- THE- DIFFERENCE? DEFENSE." That is a classic "TWO WRONGS MAKE A RIGHT LOGICAL FALLACY." Done with this one.

      June 12, 2012 at 9:41 pm |
    • Michael Dean

      Oh yeah, and you also have the very tired "GOD CAN JUST BRING HIM BACK SO WHAT'S THE BIG DEAL ABOUT DYING" ARGUMENT. I'd say, you should not be able to make this argument unless you are willing and able to trade places with someone about to die. Then YOU can die, and we won't have to hear this stupid argument for rejecting a simple blood transfusion.
      Of course, people who are suffocating from lack of blood, and who breathe in and out yet it does not satisfy you with oxygen when you breathe because you have no red blood cells to nourish your organs with oxygen. So air does not help you. Think about it. You are dying very slowly of asphyxiation. In honor of this man why don't you try holding your breath a really, really long time. See how it feels if you could never breathe again. We'll see how committed you are to this man made rule when you can't catch a breath.

      June 12, 2012 at 9:46 pm |
    • Michael Dean

      Now this comment really tells the world what kind of people JWs are. here's the kind of people they are: they say
      "JW are the only Chrisitan group trying there best to do Gods will mean while the other called "christians" do only Gods will when is convenient for them. The others always call upon Jesus, but dont really do what he commends."
      Hear that everybody??? We're all phonies and the Jehovah's Witnesses are the only ones who listen to God!!!! We're all Devil worshipers to them!!!! They are the only true Christians and we are all doomed because we take blood transfusions!!!!!!

      This is the kind of people JWs are. So next time you see a JW, tell them what you think of them for calling all of us Christians "people who are not trying to do God's will." Straight out of the horses mouth. there you have it. What further need do you have to prove they are modern day Pharisees who look down on the whole world and consider themselves better than everyone else.

      June 12, 2012 at 9:52 pm |
  12. just sayin

    I have to agree, let them be free to choose to die for his beliefs. If it involves a child then proscute the parents after the child has died. Let them go to jail for their God.

    June 11, 2012 at 1:24 pm |
    • Danny

      Funny how you say it so easy "just sayin" Have you ever asked Why they do not take Blood why they try to follow what the bible says and make it a way of life. In a world that is So permissive and accepts anything as worship, Jehovah´s Wittnesses Try to show that one can be true to what the Bible says as a Christian needs to be.

      June 12, 2012 at 1:59 pm |
    • Michael Dean

      This is to Danny

      : In a world that is So permissive and accepts anything as worship, Jehovah´s Wittnesses Try to show that one can be true to what the Bible says as a Christian needs to be.

      Are you saying that I am permissive because I accept blood transfusions? You are calling me "LOOSE?" You are saying I accept anything as worship or I will just give anything as worship to God? Like I don't care about God?
      Are you saying I am not true to the Bible?

      June 12, 2012 at 9:59 pm |
    • John

      To: Michael Dean

      Pretty much buddy. "Loose".....Now i don't judge anybody but saying you believe in the bible and actually doing what it says are 2 different things. Answer this question for me please, why don't other religions have these standards? Does the bible contradict itself? your telling me that its wrong when it says to abstain ourselves from blood in any format? Why does it say that? There is a reason for it. And saying that we just refuse any treatment is wrong. We take any alternative that our not in conflict with this.

      June 22, 2012 at 11:39 am |
  13. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    June 10, 2012 at 12:42 pm |
    • Jesus

      Prayer doesn’t not; you are such a LIAR. You have NO proof it changes anything! A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work and their children died. For example: Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine-year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested.

      An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.

      The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs!.!

      June 11, 2012 at 10:22 am |
    • derp

      If prayer changes things, why does this guy need a blood transfusion?

      Couldn't he just pray for new blood?

      June 11, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
  14. martin

    Blood transfusion by nature is an invasive procedure. If a patient cannot refuse such a therapy or has no say in the matter, God help us.

    June 10, 2012 at 9:13 am |
  15. mema

    Try leaving his faith out if it for a minute. He is a grown man of sound mind and did not want a transfusion. No court should have the authority to override anyones final wishes. Period.

    June 10, 2012 at 7:59 am |
    • Moby Schtick

      That is precisely the issue, here. Thank you.

      June 10, 2012 at 6:53 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.