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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. Mason Emerson

    Your article/reports cites a verse that "seems" (falsely) to support letting the man die from lack of transfusion, note that Christ himself says at Matthew 12:7 “If you had known what these words mean, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the innocent.” Jehovah's Witnesses are headed by a Governing Body currently consisting of seven men who are either ignorant of the Bible or ignore the other verses countering their false doctrine. They also mispredicted for 70 yrs till recently some alive in 1914 would see The End (1914+100 years=2012). Another failure was promoting 1975 for The End. Others: the current Elders only manual in chapter 3, section 19 allows local Bodies Of Elders to retain as Elders pedophiles and like ilk. Their enact shunning (disfellowshipping) so severe people sometimes suicide. Please copy and show this information around for it definitely can help save lives.

    June 9, 2012 at 10:34 am |
    • Ben

      Staying on topic, not on baseless opinion ... The following exemplifies the perfect example Jesus left to his followers to always put Jehovah's will first. In this particular case, even to death.

      Then Jesus came with them to the spot called Geth·sem´a·ne, and he said to the disciples: “Sit down here while I go over there and pray.” And taking along Peter and the two sons of Zeb´e·dee, he started to be grieved and to be sorely troubled. Then he said to them: “My soul is deeply grieved, even to death. Stay here and keep on the watch with me.” And going a little way forward, he fell upon his face, praying and saying: “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass away from me. Yet, not as I will, but as you will.” – Matthew 26:36-39

      June 9, 2012 at 11:28 am |
    • mike

      I can attest to that thanks to JW my aunt commited suicide because of their tactics, they are ruthless and heartless....

      June 9, 2012 at 7:17 pm |
  2. Ben

    Hence my decision is not to trouble those from the nations who are turning to God, but to write them to abstain from things polluted by idols and from fornication and from what is strangled and from blood. – Acts 15: 19, 20

    June 9, 2012 at 2:49 am |
    • Huebert

      Is that supposed to mean something to anyone not infected with the christian crazy?

      June 9, 2012 at 11:00 am |
  3. Mark D. Haszard

    Cults do get people killed!

    50 times as many men,women,children have been killed by the Watchtower society ban on *whole* blood transfusions than at Jonestown kool-aid mass murders.

    Jehovah's Witnesses *blood transfusion confusion*.
    In 2012 God's will and scripture got nothing to do with the Jehovah's Witnesses position on use of blood products.
    It is 100 percent what will play out in a secular court of law as to the parent Watchtower being held liable for deaths.
    Most Jehovah's Witnesses rushed to the ER with massive blood loss will scream NO BLOOD right up to their last breath,The shocker is they can now have most of the blood components that will pull them through,but they are so indoctrinated that blood is forbidden that they can't comprehend the loopholes.
    The Watchtower has drilled and grilled us that our stand on blood is NON NEGOTIABLE.
    The loopholes that allow blood usage is to save the Watchtower corporation money from blood death liability suits.
    This is a truly evil organization that would sacrifice tens of thousands of men,women,children for the almighty dollar.
    The blood products ban has been in force since 1945 the buzz today about it being a *personal conscience matter* and the hope of new medical advances like artificial blood don't undo all those who have past perished.
    The New York city based Watchtower sect is concerned foremost with liability lawsuits for wrongful death.They know that if they repeal the ban on *whole* blood transfusion,that it will open the door for legal examination of all the thousands who have died since 1945.
    *tell the truth don't be afraid*
    -
    Danny Haszard ajwrb(dot)org
    JW blood reform site

    June 9, 2012 at 2:23 am |
    • Ben

      "It is a statute to time indefinite ..." – Leviticus 3:17

      June 9, 2012 at 3:03 am |
  4. tallulah13

    This guy is an adult. It's his business if he doesn't want a transfusion. However, he should sign a waiver so that his family can't sue the hospital should he end up dying for his decision.

    June 9, 2012 at 1:46 am |
  5. Colin

    Any moron who bases 21st Century medical decisions on Bronze Age Palestinian mytholoy gets what he deserves. But no person should have the right to endanger the life of another based on their childish superst.itions. These simpletons can refuse all the medical care they want for themselves, but not for their children or other dependents.

    June 8, 2012 at 11:50 pm |
  6. whozits

    There are procedures in place for surgeries on JWs where their own blood is 'recovered' during the procedure and returned to their system. It doesn't return all the blood lost during surgery but much of it. The bullets in his head might prove problematic as the head bleeds profusely and the recovery procedure isn't as useful there, as I understand it. Also, for low levels of blood loss, synthetic plasmas don't count as 'blood' under the JW definition. In the case of the children with leukemia, transfusions are used to replace most of the child's dead blood following truly catastrophic levels of chemotherapy so recovery and synth plasma are useless. H\An adult patient has the absolute right to follow the tenets of his/her beliefs up to the point where they impact the rights of another. So you can put the blood of a black chicken on your threshold (used in several religions, including some European ethnic groups that practice Catholicism) or dance naked in the woods or refuse to live outside of easy walking distance from your place of worship or drop to your knees and wave your bum in the air five times a day – it doesn't matter to anyone but you and your god. And you can refuse transfusion, amputation, autopsy, animal parts (porcine valves and calf esophogus) – whatever is on your list of 'don'ts'. Just don't tell me what I have to do or not do to keep 'right with god.'

    June 8, 2012 at 10:54 pm |
  7. hippypoet

    the real and only question here is : is it morally right and ethically right to save a persons life even if it goes against the wishes of the person or persons in charge by law over the person whoms life needs saving?!!!

    i think the wishes of the one whoms life it is should have the ultimate and final say on the matter....not saying i believe any should have a say in the matter to begin with besides the patient but thats a separate issue. legal age and age of reason have a play in that type of situation.

    June 8, 2012 at 10:14 pm |
  8. IslandAtheist

    Screw his religion, save the child's life.

    June 8, 2012 at 9:30 pm |
  9. Bootyfunk

    Christians, promoting religious ignorance since the bronze age - way to go!

    June 8, 2012 at 7:54 pm |
    • it wasn't that long ago

      that qu eers had tainted the blood supply with AIDS

      June 9, 2012 at 11:19 am |
  10. JWT

    your jesus is not a part of my life and never has been and never will be. This is the only way for me.

    June 8, 2012 at 7:50 pm |
    • soul dead

      and a rotten waste to all humanity

      June 9, 2012 at 11:20 am |
  11. hippypoet

    i believe in a@sissted death but this is forced life and that is most def. wrong! who are they to say any are to live against their will? that is a hate crime!

    June 8, 2012 at 7:20 pm |
    • soul dead

      try buying sand selling your bull sh it in your own country.

      June 9, 2012 at 11:20 am |
  12. No proof for "No God" claim

    Case closed!

    June 8, 2012 at 7:03 pm |
    • No proof for "God" claim

      Case closed!

      June 9, 2012 at 8:32 am |
    • AtheistSteve

      Atheists don't make the "No God" claim....it is theists who make the "God" claim and we simply aren't buying what you're selling.
      It is appropriate that "case closed" was mentioned. The situation is in many ways similar to a court case. The defendant is found by the jury to be "guilty" or "not guilty".... not "innocent". Indeed a juror may thiink that a person is guilty but stil render a verdict of "not guilty" because the prosecution hasn't proven their case beyond a shadow of a doubt.
      Thus by that criteria I find God to be "not guilty" of existing.

      June 9, 2012 at 8:54 am |
  13. Vampsh Black Sheep League of Doom Gardamun Family Circle Master Vampire High Priest

    I will take whatever blood he not using

    June 8, 2012 at 6:52 pm |
    • No God

      Win. You get 1000 internets sir.

      June 8, 2012 at 9:47 pm |
  14. junior

    It is considered cannibalism for J.W.'s

    June 8, 2012 at 6:21 pm |
    • Ben

      Baseless argument.

      June 9, 2012 at 3:06 am |
  15. Ecclesiastes 7:17

    If it was his wish not to get a blood transfusion...then he shouldn't get one. This is rather a clear cut case.

    June 8, 2012 at 6:17 pm |
    • JWT

      Indeed it is.

      June 8, 2012 at 7:48 pm |
  16. Really-O?

    It's nobody's business but your own what the hell you do with your own damned body...say it loud and clear as many times as necessary.

    Please note that I specifically said "your OWN damned" body. This does not necessarily apply to others for whom you are a custodian.

    June 8, 2012 at 5:54 pm |
  17. Answer

    Well let's have a side bet.. dead without a needed blood transfusion. Any takers?

    June 8, 2012 at 5:48 pm |
    • JWT

      His choice and his consequences.

      June 8, 2012 at 7:48 pm |
  18. Crizz Flow Diznollah

    beat that boy with a shoe, dawg!!

    June 8, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
  19. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things

    June 8, 2012 at 5:11 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 8, 2012 at 5:37 pm |
    • nope

      @jesus
      Nope

      June 8, 2012 at 5:41 pm |
    • Jesus

      "@jesus
      Nope"

      More lies without any proof, thanks for proving me correct, I am a god!

      June 8, 2012 at 5:49 pm |
    • junior

      prayer changes lives.

      June 8, 2012 at 6:22 pm |
    • Dobro

      Since when are children things? Neither are animals. Maybe you are talking about plants? Yup, I think we can agree on calling plants "living things." Not sure why atheism would be unhealthy for plants, though.

      June 8, 2012 at 7:26 pm |
    • Mass Debater

      If prayer works so well, why the need for a transfusion?

      June 8, 2012 at 7:43 pm |
    • find an atheist

      find total disregard for human life and environmental issues.

      June 8, 2012 at 8:29 pm |
  20. Kindness

    For you.
    A thought to consider without an ego response

    Accept Jesus christ as your lord and saviour. You never know how soon is too late. Transcend the worldly illusion of enslavement.
    The world denounces truth....

    Accepting Jesus Christ (for me) resulted in something like seeng a new colour. You will see it .....but will not be able to clearly explain it to anyone else..... Its meant to be that way to transend any selfism within you.

    Also... much the world arranges "surrounding dark matter into something to be debated" in such a way that protects/inflates the ego.

    The key is be present and transcend our own desire to physically see evidence. We don't know anyways by defending our own perception of dark matter.

    Currently.... most of us are constructing our own path that suits our sin lifestyle. Were all sinners. Knowing that we are is often an issue. But both christians and non are sinners.

    We don't like to Let go and let god. We want control to some degree. This is what Jesus asks us to do. "Follow me".
    It's the hardest thing to do... but is done by letting the truth of scripture lead you (redemptive revelation)... as I said .

    Try reading corinthians and see if it makes sense to you. Try it without a pre conceived notion of it being a fairy tale.
    See the truth...
    do we do what it says in todays society... is it relevant... so many have not recently read and only hinge their philosophy on what they have heard from som other person...which may have been full of arogance pride or vanity..

    Look closely at the economy ponzi, look at how society idolizes Lust , greed , envy, sloth, pride of life, desire for knowledge, desire for power, desire for revencge,gluttony with food etc .

    Trancsend the temporal world.

    Just think if you can find any truth you can take with you ....in any of these things. When you die your riches go to someone who will spend away your life..... You will be forgotten.... history will repeat iteslf.... the greatest minds knowledge fade or are eventually plagerzed..... your good deeds will be forgotten and only give you a fleeting temporary reward . your learned teachings are forgotten or mutated..... your gold is transfered back to the rullers that rule you through deception. Your grave will grow over . This is truth .

    Trancsend your egoism and free yourself from this dominion of satan. Understand you are a sinner and part of the collective problem of this worldly matrix... Repent.... Repent means knowing (to change) The Holy spirit (within) will convict you beyond what you think you can do by yourself. Grace is given to those who renounce the world. That are" in" the world but not "of " the world.

    Evidence follows faith. Faith does not follow evidence..... Faith above reason in Jesus Christ.

    Faith comes by Reading or Hearing the word of god from the bible . Ask Jesus in faith for dicernment and start reading the new testament... You will be shocked when you lay down your preconceived notions and ....see and hear truth ... see how christ sets an example ... feel the truth....

    Read Ecclesiastes. Read corinthians.

    You cant trancend your own egoism by adapting a world philosophy to suit your needs. Seek the truth in Christ.

    Sell all your cleverness and purchase true bewilderment. You don't get what you want ....you get what you are in christ.

    I promise this has been the truth for me. In Jesus christ .

    Think of what you really have to lose. ...your ego?

    Break the Matrix of illusion that holds your senses captive.

    once you do . you too will have the wisdom of God that comes only through the Holy Spirit. Saved By grace through Faith. Just like seeing a new colour.... can't explain it to a transient caught in the matrix of worldly deception.
    You will also see how the world suppresses this information and distorts it

    You're all smart people . I tell the truth. Its hard to think out of the box when earthly thinking is the box.
    I'ts a personal free experience you can do it free anytime . Don't wait till you are about to die.. START PUTTING YOUR TREASURES WHERE THEY REALLY MATTER >
    Its awsome and It's just between you and Jesus

    my testimony

    June 8, 2012 at 5:07 pm |
    • Jesus

      SPAM Alert much of what this poster writes has been disputed over and over again yet their ego won't stop spamming this nonsense.

      June 8, 2012 at 5:38 pm |
    • just sayin

      Keep spreading wonderful TRUTH. God bless

      June 8, 2012 at 5:40 pm |
    • Jesus

      "Keep spreading wonderful TRUTH. God bless"

      More lies.

      June 8, 2012 at 5:41 pm |
    • SkepticOne

      SPAMMMMMMMMM!

      June 8, 2012 at 5:43 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.