herald

Sunday 17 December 2017

Boy (3) to get blood after High Court ruling

A THREE-year-old boy can be given a blood transfusion during surgery despite religious objections from his Jehovah's Witness parents, the High Court has ruled.

The child, who cannot be named by order of the court, needs to have his tonsils out because of recurring infections and because it is delaying development of speech.

The boy's father told the court yesterday that while he and his wife wanted him to get the best medical treatment, it was a core belief blood "is not to be taken to the body".

The child's consultant, in an affidavit, said if the hospital was not in a position to administer the transfusion, there is a risk of death and brain damage.

The court heard the child requires a tonsillectomy, adenoidectomy and grommet insertion (to deal with a build up of fluid in the middle ear) because, apart from infections, he has also suffered some hearing loss.

The surgery is scheduled for tomorrow, Eileen Barrington, for the hospital, told the court.

Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns, president of the High Court, granted the hospital an order permitting a transfusion to be given if necessary.

The child's GP had indicated he had four episodes of infection in the past four months and required antibiotics which was obviously to the distress of his parents, the judge said.

He was satisfied that to the greatest extent possible, the hospital would refrain from giving the transfusion and it will only happen after a review by a senior consultant.

The child was referred to the hospital last year and last January his consultant decided he required surgery but the parents were not happy to proceed, Ms Barrington said.

Given the history of infection and the issue of delay in the child's speech development, it was decided to carry out the operation tomorrow, she said.

The parents had said they would consent to certain blood products being administered but not red blood cells which a consultant haematologist considered was vital, if required, counsel said.



essence

The haematologist also said there was a risk of about 5pc in a tonsillectomy operation that a patient would need blood both during and in the days after the surgery, counsel said.

The hospital respected the parents' religious beliefs but did not want to be in a position where it might have to be making such an application in an emergency situation where time would be of the essence, Ms Barrington added.

The boy's father told the court they were appreciative of the hospital and it was being extremely helpful in saying it would not give the transfusion if it is not necessary.

hnews@herald.ie

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