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Quebec coroner investigating death of another Jehovah's Witness after childbirth

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Mirlande Cadet, 46, died of suspected hemorrhage day after giving birth by C-section. 


Mirlande Cadet left behind two daughters and her newborn son. (Isaac Cadet)

A Quebec coroner is investigating the death of a 46-year-old Jehovah's Witness who died Oct. 3 from complications shortly after giving birth by caesarian section in a Montreal hospital.

A spokeswoman for the coroner's office, Geneviève Guilbault, confirmed that the bureau was launching an investigation into Cadet's death in an email to CBC Montreal.

"Based on information that's been circulating … and other information we received from the hospital, it's been decided that a coroner will investigate the death of Mrs. Cadet," Guilbault wrote.  

The inquest is the second coroner's investigation this month into the death of a Jehovah's Witness following childbirth in Quebec.

Unclear circumstances

Cadet experienced complications after she gave birth to a healthy son by C-section at St. Mary's Hospital on Oct. 2 and required a blood transfusion, according to her brother Isaac Cadet.

It is unclear if Cadet got a blood transfusion, or if she did, when she received it and what the circumstances were that led to its approval.

Blood transfusions are forbidden under Jehovah's Witness doctrine, which holds that the Old and New Testaments command them to abstain from blood.


Isaac Cadet says his family welcomed the news of the coroner's investigation after getting little information from hospital. (CBC)

All Jehovah's Witnesses are expected to sign and carry a card refusing a blood transfusion.

Isaac Cadet questions whether his sister would have signed a card and refused a blood transfusion. He described her as a loving mother to her two other children and a devoted aunt who loved to get family together. 

"I have a lot of doubt that my sister signed that document," Cadet told CBC News.

He welcomed news of the coroner's investigation, saying his family needs to know what happened to its "leader."

"It's a relief because we've tried to find out what happened, tried to access documents, and we weren't allowed. We were told they're confidential," he said.

Mirlande Cadet's husband declined to be interviewed when contacted by CBC Montreal.

Church elders at hospital 'intimidating'

A Quebec coroner is already investigating the death of Éloise Dupuis, 27, who is said to have refused an emergency blood transfusion for a hemorrhage after delivering a baby by C-section at Hôtel-Dieu de Lévis Hospital near Quebec City.

She died Oct. 12.

Coroner Luc Malouin is working to determine whether her refusal was free and informed as required by medical and legal standards.

After her death, Dupuis's aunt, Manon Boyer, filed a complaint with police in Lévis alleging her niece was pressured into refusing consent by a Jehovah's Witness hospital liaison committee.

The committees are composed of Jehovah's Witness elders who are dispatched to a hospital when a member is facing a blood transfusion decision.

According to the faith group, their role is to advocate for bloodless medical procedures and ensure their members' wishes are respected.

Their presence, however, has been criticized by a former Jehovah's Witness, who said it's "intimidating."


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There are some strange comments and inferences in this thread. Regardless of what others may think about our stand on blood, some facts are as follows: Jehovah's Witnesses make a personal decis

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I wonder why the hospital won't turn over the records for investigation.  This is really sad and may be unnecessary lost of life.  We may need to get out of the blood business and let families decide for themselves what treatment they wish to receive if it's a life or death situation and let God be the judge.  I also don't remember signing anything when I got baptized to declare I'm a JW, but eventually was given a blood card to sign.  However, now I'm not so sure the scriptures mean absolutely no blood when we are eating some blood of the animals and accepting other treatments from whole blood.  The scriptures may indicate blood of someone or something killed must return to God or the animal bled as much as possible.

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2 hours ago, JaniceM said:

I wonder why the hospital won't turn over the records for investigation.

I realy don't know how the legal system works in Canada. In my experience as a doctor in Europe though in an ongoing investigation the clinical documents are not released to anybody but only to the investigator and after sometime to the lawyers (in case there have been appointed). In this case the woman's family asked for the documents and obviously (and rightly in my oppinion) there have not been given access. When the investigation will be over they probably would have access to them via a lawyer.

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There are some strange comments and inferences in this thread. Regardless of what others may think about our stand on blood, some facts are as follows:

  • Jehovah's Witnesses make a personal decision to avoid the use of whole blood in medical management of health issues simply becuase they understand the prohibition at Acts 15:29 to apply ito this practice.
  • Jehovah's Witnesses do not sign a baptism certificate because the baptism itself is seen as a public declaration of their decision to dedicate themselves to God.
  • The so-called "blood card" that Jehovah's Witnesses use is a provision to assist them in dealing with medical authorities in case of an emergency. It serves as an expression of their will in regard to a  personal choice of medical procedure and is no different than carrying information regarding diabetes, an allergy, or any other medical preference or condition. Medical practioners wishing to respect personal choice in such matters have expressed appreciation for such a document, not least because it helps to resolve conflict in balancing their own professional responsibility against respect for an individual,s wishes. It is a personal choice to have one and no one is compelled to carry one as is inferred.
  • The brothers who support Jehovah's Witnesses in a medical emergency are there by choice of the individual experiencing the situation. They work outside of specific situations to raise awareness amongs medical practioners of the reasons why Jehovah's Witnesses take this particular view of a medical procedure, and the existence of alternative methods of managing medical conditions where blood loss trauma is an issue. They also support Witnesses in locating practioners who respect their conscientous stand and have sufficient expertise to treat them.
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Thank everyone for you comments.  My questioning was because some hospitals do now have JW members assisting in their blood loss programs or as part of their hospital board or operations.  I have surgery next week and more questions lately.  Things have gotten a bit sketchy between what is whole blood and what is a fraction of blood treatment.  If I choose to receive a fraction of blood treatment, can I give a fraction of blood treatment?  If I take a fraction of someone's blood, they would have had to take it initially from their whole blood.  Did God mean no blood or fraction of blood?  It took decades to maybe reason this out.  If blood transfusions were part of early medicine, I suppose the early Christians would have refused or declared their wishes.  I can also see the need to have a medical alert bracelet in case of an emergency which may be better than a card, since you may not always have the card with you or lose it in an accident and maybe no one can speak for your wishes.  Hopefully, the family can get some answers knowing whatever answer there is will not soften the loss of a loved one.

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