WARNING: This post makes some references to religion.
For those that are unaware, I'm the son of 2 Nigerian immigrants. In our country, it is customary to invoke tribal rituals passed down for generations to treat most illnesses. In my youth, I was subjected to some of the most acrid, primitive, pungent and stunningly disgusting home remedies you could imagine. These traditional methods are preferred to the point where those with potentially fatal (but treatable) conditions often shun medical attention and find themselves in an early grave.
With that being said, I was born in Washington, DC -- the would-be capital of the WORLD. I subscribe to and place the the utmost of faith in western medicine. My mother doesn't even own any more of those black bottles of Liquid X with its mystery ingredients. You would think that in the advent of medical innovation, one would rely on western medicine to keep us from the brink of death, right? Well, to quote the great philosopher Charles Q. Murphy: "WRONG! Wrong..."
Apparently, there are some Jehovah's Witnesses strolling the planet Earth who believe that seeking treatment is heresy -- to the point where a 14 year-old kid lost his life, instead of seeking the blood transfusions that could have substantially prolonged his life.
Yes, it is not a perfect science... but improvements are made daily and new, more effective treatment is always one lab experiment away. The saddest part about this story is that his parents wanted so badly for him to receive treatment -- it was his aunt who (allegedly) convinced him that it would be sacrilegious (editor's note: the aunt refused to comment when approached by the AP about the incident... hmm -- curious). The judge for this trial didn't agree with that theory -- he believed that the boy was not coerced and that he was more than capable of making the decision on his own. Really, good sir? How many 14 year-old boys do you know that wouldn't rather be playing baseball, chasing girls or playing Guitar Hero III until their fingers went numb? Something tells me that an untimely, excruciating death wasn't exactly his #1 wish for the holidays.
Moral of the story: If your ear won't stop bleeding, one of your lungs stops inflating or your heartbeat sounds like the bass line of a Dr. Dre track... don't be an idiot -- go to the doctor. Now.