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Jehovah's Witness - Advanced Health Care Directive

  • 19-04-2022 3:31pm
    Registered Users Posts: 34,111 ✭✭✭✭
    Master of the Universe

    Something I was discussing over the weekend with my partner and I thought it might make an interesting topic here.

    Both my parents are Jehovah's Witnesses and completely reject all blood transfusions in all circumstances. They carry an 'Advanced Health Care Directive form', which you can read here and covers their wishes.

    I am not a Jehovah's Witness (neither are my siblings) and have very strong opinions when it comes to the idea of them rejecting a life saving blood transfusion. (IE, I would rather them live and be annoyed at me for having them receive a blood transfusion than having them die and not have them around at all)

    Was actually reading through that directive recently and was quite shocked to come across point 7 re family and it actually looks like by signing this, they've given ALL control over to the Jehovah's Witness Hospital Liaison Committee to make all end of life decisions - which is really scary to be honest.

    Does anyone have any experience with health care and such matters and know of any cases where it may have been challenged in the courts?

    Completely hypothetical discussion at the moment, just something I'm starting to think about as they get older.


  • Registered Users Posts: 39,991 ✭✭✭✭ohnonotgmail

    they've given ALL control over to the Jehovah's Witness Hospital Liaison Committee to make all end of life decisions

    I don't think this is correct. an AHCD lists the treatments you don't want (and those you do but this is probably less relevant for a JW) and the person you nominate is tasked with ensuring the patients wishes are enforced. they can not make decisions as to the patients care.

  • Registered Users Posts: 34,111 ✭✭✭✭o1s1n
    Master of the Universe

    Does point 8 not give them a bit more scope though?

    'Apart from the matters covered above, I appoint the person named herein as my agent to make health-care decisions for me. I give my agent full power and authority to consent to or to refuse treatment (including artificial nutrition and hydration) on my behalf etc etc'

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,620 ✭✭✭wench

    Here is the HSE's guidance on caring for a JW patient.

    "Family members may not share the religious views of the patient. If this affects the views of medical treatment, then the wishes of the patient must be paramount."

    Overriding the patient's wishes usually requires a trip to the High Court, and is rarely done.

    Ususally for a minor child or a pregnant person, to preserve the health & life of the child

    Here is the legislation covering advanced directives in Ireland. It does allow for an agent to carry out your expressed wishes.

  • Registered Users Posts: 39,991 ✭✭✭✭ohnonotgmail

    yes but the agent cannot override the patients wishes in 1-6 according to item 7. If you say no to all of that I'm not sure there is much left consent to or refuse.

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,232 ✭✭✭TooTired123

    Hopefully it never comes to that OP.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 8,925 ✭✭✭GM228

    Probably worth noting that is an AHD based on California Health Care Decisions Law, perhaps the scope of point 8 is permitted under law there, but, in Ireland it would be contrary to the law.

  • Registered Users Posts: 23,227 ✭✭✭✭One eyed Jack

    I’m wondering if you’re either missing the point of AHDs, or you understand the point of them, but the overriding concern is for what you believe is in your parents best interests, which is completely understandable under the circumstances as you’ve outlined them.

    The purposes of an AHD though is that the patients wishes with regard to their own healthcare is paramount, and they offer guidance as to how the medical profession will treat the patient. In my own circumstances for example, when I refused to consent to a blood transfusion, they were almost ready to call the operation off as they weren’t prepared to go through with it without having the possibility of a transfusion as an option if anything happened to go wrong -

    While I absolutely do understand your position OP, the point of AHDs are a means of acknowledging the patients autonomy and respecting their wishes in the particular circumstances as they are outlined in the AHD. They won’t give anyone full control over all end of life decisions; what they do is act as a guide for the treating physicians as to what the patient feels is in their best interests in terms of any decisions regarding their own healthcare if the point comes when they are incapable or incapacitated and unable to communicate their wishes with regards to their healthcare at that time.

  • Registered Users Posts: 34,111 ✭✭✭✭o1s1n
    Master of the Universe

    Thanks all for the insights into this, really has been a lot of food for thought.

    Really appreciate the detailed reply there Jack.

    I suppose one of the underlying things I'm trying to poke through on this is whether the decision of a relative/next of kin (in this case, perhaps a consensus between all surviving children) could override an AHD in a case of an 'immediate transfusion or death' type scenario - reading the wording of the directive, I am coming to the conclusion that this is a firm 'no'.

    I suppose I kind of always knew that, it's just a bit jarring to actually properly read it through and fully realise the potential ramifications of it all. My grandparents are also JWs, so that's four people who could potentially face this situation.

  • Registered Users Posts: 269 ✭✭JayPS 2288

    Sorry OP but the JW religion is a pox in humanity.

  • Registered Users Posts: 34,111 ✭✭✭✭o1s1n
    Master of the Universe

    Preaching to the choir - I was in for 10 years before waking up, poor sisters didn't get out until their mid 20s. Luckily none of the three of us were baptised so we fall into a bit of a technicality with our family where they don't need to shun us.

    If we'd been baptised things would be very different.

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