Age: 18 months
Date: 3 Jul 1960
Eliza Humphries and Henry Russell Humphries died following a road accident.
Henry Russell died in the accident but Eliza Humphries was taken to the hospital where she was treated, however, she was a Jehovah's Witness and refused to have a blood transfusion that was thought would have saved her life.
Open verdicts there returned on both of them.
Eliza Humphries was a mother of five and had lived in Bolton-on-Dearne, a South Yorkshire mining village. Her husband was a wasteman at Manvers Colliery.
They had all gone out on Eliza Humphries's motorcycle combination, Eliza Humphries, her husband, Russell Humphries and another son aged 3. The 3-year-old son had not been hurt. It was said that they had gone out for a 'five-minute run round the houses'.
Eliza Humphries had been taken to Doncaster Gate Hospital in Rotherham critically injured where she died 36 hours later after refusing to have a blood transfusion. However, it was said that she would have stood a fair chance of survival 'with adequate restoration and expert surgical treatment'.
Henry Humphries had died from a fractured spine.
A report that was prepared for the inquest that detailed Eliza Humphries's death said, 'It was suspected that she had internal bleeding, but the exact source was not established. The purpose of an operation would have been to find it and stop the bleeding. She required blood for an operation to be attempted. Permission was refused by the patient and her relatives. There is no doubt that she died mainly from loss of blood. Her fluid loss had been adequately met but she required red cells. She was young and healthy and, with adequate restoration and expert surgical treatment, she would have stood a fair chance of survival. She might not have survived with the operation, but there is no doubt that her chances of survival would have been greatly enhanced by the administration of whole blood in sufficient quantities'.
A doctor said that when Eliza Humphries was admitted that she was severely shocked and that her injuries included a double fracture of the left thigh, a broken arm and internal injuries. He said that her husband later told him that he did not mind Eliza Humphries being given plasma and that that was done. He said, Really nothing else could be done. We could not do any operation because she was not fit to be operated upon. We just pressed on giving plasma until she died'.
When Eliza Humphries's husband was asked about the blood transfusion by the Coroner, he said, 'It was my wife's wish that in the event of a serious accident she did not want blood. I told the doctors the choice was hers. In hospital my wife said, 'Please make them respect my wishes''.
Following her death Eliza Humphries's husband described her death as 'a shining example of an act of faith. I know people will condemn it, but that does not matter. I believe what has happened was right'.
He also said, 'I am a member of the Society of Jehovah's Witnesses. My wife had not become a dedicated member, but she associated with the Witnesses and attended Bible-readings. She had always made it clear she did not want to have a blood transfusion, although we never thought it would come to the point. The society does not ban transfusions, just as it does not ban smoking or drinking. It is a matter of individual decision. The doctors asked if they should give a transfusion. I told them it was for her to decide. The doctors said if she had a transfusion she would probably live. If she didn't she would probably die. I told my wife they wanted to give her a transfusion. She said, 'No, don't let them'. It was her decision, but she knew my views. She must have respected my wishes as head of the household. My 16-year-old son who is not a member of the society pleaded with me not to let the doctors give his mother a transfusion. A hospital official said four doctors tried to persuade Mrs Humphries to have a transfusion. If someone refuses a transfusion you cannot give one, for you would be guilty of assault if you did. There is no doubt that with blood transfusions the chances of recovery in such cases are much enhanced, but one cannot be dogmatic and say she would have lived if she had had a transfusion'.
see Birmingham Daily Post - Friday 29 July 1960
see Daily News (London) - Wednesday 06 July 1960