It is with deep sadness that we announce the death of Éloïse Dupuis, a 27-year-old Jehovah’s Witness from Quebec, Canada. Éloïse died on Wednesday October 12th 2016, just one week after giving birth to her first child, Liam.
JW Survey has obtained information from sources close to the family which confirm the rumors that her death was the result of her refusal to accept a life-saving blood transfusion, which led to intensified complications following her childbirth.
The tragedy began with the precarious birth of her son, not at the hospital, but at the Maison de Naissance Mimosa (a house of birth) – with the assistance of a midwife. Unfortunately the birth did not take place according to plan, and Éloïse was rushed to the hospital where an emergency Cesarean section was performed, followed by uncontrolled bleeding and the subsequent removal of her uterus.
While the practice of using a midwife is by no means exclusive to Jehovah’s Witnesses, the risk of death for mother and child is proportionately higher for Witnesses due to their refusal to accept blood. Throwing caution to the wind, some members exacerbate the risk of death by giving birth outside the safety net of a hospital, where alternative non-blood treatments are often available. The practice of home-birth for Jehovah’s Witnesses amounts to jumping out of an airplane while refusing a backup parachute.
By outward appearances, Éloïse was a faithful member of her religion, a woman who loved life, loved her husband, and loved children. She was a babysitter with an abiding desire to build a family with her husband, Paul-André Roy. Even after the news was broken to her at the hospital that she would lose her uterus, in her intubated state she scribbled a note to her husband on a piece of paper: “It’s OK – we will adopt.” Éloïse Dupuis did not want to die.
The death of Éloïse, while devastating and tragic, comes as part of the Jehovah’s Witness risk package, with the Witness organization recently intensifying its demand for loyalty among members by mentally preparing them for death in the event they need blood.
Behind the Scenes – The Inside Story
The story of Éloïse is a tale of conflict and divided loyalties. One the one hand, she was a dedicated, baptized Jehovah’s Witness with immediate family deeply entrenched in the religion. Her father, Alain Dupuis, is a prominent elder in Quebec, and is recognized by Canadian authorities as one of the few Witness elders in Quebec allowed to deliver marriage vows. In fact, he presided at the Éloïse’s first wedding, then her second marriage to current husband Paul-André. As her parents and in-laws are all members of the Witness religion, her immediate inner circle would appear to be a solid, closed loop. However there was an alternative side to Éloïse which suggests that she desired friends and family outside of the insular community of Jehovah’s Witnesses, where association with non-JW friends and relatives is highly discouraged.
Yet somehow, Éloïse was able to maintain a close bond to her devoted aunt, Manon Boyer, who is not a Witness. She spoke to her aunt nearly every day, right up to the night before Éloïse went into labor. She was also very close with three non-JW sisters, who were in fact triplets. These four women were utterly devastated to find out that Éloïse’s pregnancy resulted in her hospitalization, and their pleas to JW family members went unanswered for six days, as Éloïse lay dying in the hospital. Frantic calls to Éloïse’s parents were unanswered, despite the fact that her parents knew how close their daughter was to these women. As a last desperate measure, they contacted Aunt Manon and collectively located Éloïse and phoned the hospital. They were able to reach a nurse, who informed them of the gravity of the situation, and they immediately drove three and a half hours to the Hôtel-Dieu de Lévis Hospital near Quebec City. By the time they arrived, Éloïse was near death, with a beating heart, but complications so severe that her demise was imminent. They wanted to see their dear friend one last time. This proved to be a challenge. Not only was Éloïse surrounded by her husband and parents, but there were three men hovering nearby who denied access to Éloïse. These were Jehovah’s Witness elders; one of them has been referred to as “Le Grand Manitou” – a French expression which translates as “the big boss” or “the big shot.” (It is extremely commonplace for prominent Jehovah’s Witness elders to intervene in the medical affairs of hospitalized Witnesses, to ensure that only Witness-authorized treatments are administered).
Following a heated dispute, the sisters were able to say their final farewell to Éloïse, amid the protests of the three “wise men” – the big shots or enforcers of Jehovah’s Witness doctrine.
Doctors, Nurses, and Patient Advocates Deeply Disturbed
Patient confidentiality is a well-protected aspect of 21st century medical care, but there is a limit to what a person can bear, particularly when doctors are sworn to administer life-saving care to humans whose desire is to survive and recover from illness. Jehovah’s Witnesses frequently test the boundaries of medicine by announcing that they desire the highest standard of medical care, but when life is on the line, will reject the one treatment which will save their life -the blood transfusion.
There is no doubt that the medical professionals caring for Éloïse will never forget the woman who lost her life for adhering to Jehovah’s Witness doctrine. JW Survey was able to obtain exclusive details from one of the professionals treating Éloïse, who must remain anonymous for obvious reasons. The reason for obtaining this information, aside from the desire to understand exactly why Éloïse died, is to refute the false claims of Jehovah’s Witness advocates who are attempting to mischaracterize the nature of her death, shifting the cause from lack of necessary transfusion therapy to the resultant infection which terminated her life.
Specifically, here is what happened: Éloïse arrived at the hospital following a failed midwife delivery, and doctors immediately delivered her baby Liam by C-section. There was a significant loss of blood during this procedure, further complicated by a uterine rupture, which depleted her blood even further. A hysterectomy was then performed, but the loss of blood required transfusion. The Jehovah’s Witness family, together with “The Grand Manitou” vehemently declined this treatment, and Éloïse began slipping out of consciousness, her hemoglobin count dropping so low that her life was rapidly slipping away. In an attempt to infuse as much oxygen as possible into her body, Éloïse was intubated. Unfortunately, dangerously low hemoglobin levels expose the body to extreme risk of infection, and Éloïse fell victim to the streptococcus bacteria. Without white blood cells to fight this invasion, Éloïse was defenseless. Her vital organs failed, her body failed, and she died.
According to one medical professional directly involved in her care, “all of this would have been avoided” with an initial infusion of 2-3 pints of blood. This tragedy was preventable, but the medical rights of an adult patient surrounded by intense Jehovah’s Witness pressure forces hospital personnel to administer treatment which defies accepted medical practice, and often leaves nurses and doctors in tears. The men and women whose sole focus in life is to save lives are handcuffed by the insanity of uneducated religious leaders who developed a policy which has needlessly ended the lives of tens of thousands of Witnesses.
While this case is not unique, it has incited the fury of both medical personnel and the friends and non-Witness family members who have initiated a plea to hospital administration to investigate this case. As a result, an inquiry has been initiated by the coroner of Quebec, which will examine the details of this case, in an attempt to determine whether Éloïse acted purely on her own volition, or was heavily influenced by Jehovah’s Witness doctrine and enforcers.
One interesting side note to this story is the fact that Éloïse was known to have a great fondness for the Twilight movie trilogy, even wearing a Twilight bracelet. While this may seem quite normal for a non-Witness, among most devout Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Twilight movie series is absolutely taboo; the subject of vampires and blood are intensely offensive to Jehovah’s Witness theology. In fact, the 2016 JW convention series (described below) featured a reference to this movie trilogy by producing their own movie which demonstrated the spiritual pitfalls of watching such “worldly” entertainment. The fact that Éloïse made no secret of her admiration for these films raises a potential question about her devotion to the Jehovah’s Witness doctrine. Further investigation may reveal that Éloïse might not have had the same dedication to her belief structure as one might be led to believe.
Why did this happen?
Jehovah’s Witnesses usually receive the latest doctrine from their web site, jw.org as well as regional and local assemblies held throughout the year. During the recent 2016 “Remain Loyal to Jehovah” regional assemblies held worldwide, an abundance of references were made connecting loyalty to God with the refusal to accept a blood transfusion. Éloïse would have been present to receive these non-negotiable instructions from Witness headquarters.
A source inside the Watchtower organization leaked the entire outline of speeches for this recent assembly series, which includes numerous reminders for Jehovah’s Witnesses that they must not only refuse blood, but must proactively make plans for their denial of treatment, should a whole-blood transfusion become necessary.
Particularly for young, impressionable members of the Jehovah’s Witness faith, the command to “abstain” from blood in any form, including transfusion, is a command so powerful that there is simply no alternative but to obey. As pointed out later in the 2016 Regional Assembly program, any disobedience related to the blood directive would mean certain death for the one breaking God’s law. Essentially, survival now means everlasting death in the future, with God’s deadly stamp of approval.
Had Éloïse voluntarily accepted a blood transfusion to save her life and fulfill her role as a mother to young Liam, her actions would immediately be viewed as her “disassociation” from the Jehovah’s Witness organization. This stigma is not just a label, it is a mark of disloyalty which results in complete shunning by all Jehovah’s Witness friends and family. She would nurse her baby in virtual isolation, having been cut off from her support network.
Later in the assembly program, another discourse equated loyalty to God with adherence to Watchtower’s modern-day application of the Old Testament ban on eating blood:
As if direct verbal instruction from the JW lectures was not enough, the recent 2016 Assembly unveiled a feature-length made-for-Witnesses movie (The Job Drama) which opens with a frightening scene where a Jehovah’s Witness woman is being rushed to the hospital following a violent accident. The woman dies, but not before the contents of her purse were emptied, revealing the familiar ‘NO BLOOD” card – a document traditionally carried by Witnesses at all times advising medical personnel that under no circumstances will they accept a transfusion. Jehovah’s Witnesses have long used visual imagery in their books, magazines and tracts to suggest and influence behavior. The addition of high-definition video adds an effective weapon to their arsenal.
In another series of videos produced at this latest convention, Jehovah’s Witnesses were introduced to the fictional character named Sergei – a young man who walked away from a promising career in music to adhere to Watchtower doctrine. Watchtower did not miss the chance to reinforce it’s anti-blood mandate one more time when the once youthful Sergei was now an old man, hospitalized, and facing his final challenge – the refusal of a blood transfusion which would likely end his life.
The story of Sergei is fiction. The story of Éloïse is real.
Éloïse was a genuine, real-life warm-hearted person raised as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, loyal to the very end. Her life was cut short at 27 years of age, the result of the most serious gamble of her life. She rolled the dice, deciding that the promise of resurrection and everlasting life in the future was very real; but saving her life with a few pints of blood right now would terminate her relationship with God, cost her all of her Witness friends and family, and ruin her life now and forever.
That is a tremendous burden to bear, particularly for a young pregnant woman who is suddenly thrust into a life or death decision. Éloïse was an adult, with the right to make an informed decision on her medical care. However her decisions were not based on in-depth research or a recent religious awakening – they were firmly founded on the Jehovah’s Witness doctrine drilled into her from childhood.
Anyone who has been raised inside a cult and later escaped will tell you that their decision to become a blood card-carrying baptized member of the Jehovah’s Witness religion had more to do with influence and pressure than any other factor. When you are pounded day after day, month after month, year after year with the notion that the world is controlled by Satan, that only Jehovah’s Witnesses have uncovered the “truth”, and that God demands complete loyalty to the mandates of his appointed leaders in New York, the net result is that you believe what you are being told.
And after all, why wouldn’t you? When your parents teach you these things – you trust them. When your friends at the Kingdom Hall believe it – so do you. When the elders of the congregation urge you to believe it – you have faith in these men. Your entire world consists of meetings several times per week at the Kingdom Hall. You read JW magazines and books, watch Witness videos, make presentations and testimonials at meetings, then put all of this into action on Saturday and Sunday when you knock on doors, or wheel a book-laden cart down to the local bus stop, actively reinforcing your own belief structure by publicly identifying yourself as a loyal Witness.
The net result is that you are deeply vested in the belief system, an you are not allowed to question it. If you do, you are initially branded as a spiritually weak person, a very unpleasant stigma. If you persist in your questions or doubts, you become an immediate candidate for apostasy, which is the worst possible crime for a Jehovah’s Witness. There is no coming back from apostasy. A close second is accepting a blood transfusion – an act of disloyalty so severe, that even if you were to apologize and “repent” for accepting blood, you are forever labeled as a disloyal person who caved in when you life was on the line. This flaw carries with you for the rest of your life, regardless of whether you are reinstated to the congregation or not.
In the end, Éloïse was a beloved person, wife, child, and now a mother. Sadly, her child will grow up without her mom, the cruel result of a belief so bizarre, that all fingers point to God as the perpetrator of this policy. But this is not the God worshiped by Christians, or by Muslims, or by the Jews. This particular God, Jehovah, allegedly identified Nathan Knorr and the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society as his spokesperson, and he inspired them to by the year 1961 to disfellowship any Witness accepting a blood transfusion. Meanwhile, the Almighty’s prolific spilling of both animal and human blood in the Old and New testament is legendary, and in complete conflict with the belief that life is sacred.
When I was 20 years old, I faced my first operation under the skilled hands of three oncologists and an anesthesiologist. I presented my “no blood” card along with an explanation of why I would not accept a blood transfusion under any circumstances. I was prepared to die. Some 15 years later, I faced the same test, and presented my updated and signed card to the surgeons, once again with my parents and fellow witnesses at my side, assuring me that I was making the right decision. At the time, it was my only decision. The alternative was unthinkable. If I had agreed to a possible transfusion, I would have been ousted by my religion, abandoned by my friends, and left with the intense guilt which can only be understood by someone whose entire life was controlled by the doctrine implanted in my mind since childhood. At 46 years of age, I finally broke free, but it took over a year to remove my “no blood” document from my wallet. This was an act of finality which released me from the bondage to this bizarre and compelling belief – that God would not accept me if I accepted blood.
To the family of Éloïse I say that I am deeply sorry for your loss, but I must confess that I am angered, disturbed and horrified that you and Jehovah’s Witness elders permitted this vibrant life to die, without giving her a fighting chance to live. You filled her with doctrine which is neither scriptural or logical, despite all arguments contained in the Jehovah’s Witness manual of conduct. You robbed medical personnel of the chance to save a life, and these fine men and women will never forget Éloïse, or the unnecessary tragedy which ended her life.
The outcry of her aunt, her close friends, the hospital administration, the patient advocates,and the government of the great province of Quebec will not rest until the story of Éloïse reaches every corner of our world, and the tragedy of undue religious influence will have been legally eliminated once and for all time.
From the warm heart of JW Survey and the entire community of concerned individuals, we honor the memory of Éloïse Dupuis.