Doctors can give girl from Jehovah’s Witness family blood transfusion, judge rules

A High Court judge has ruled that doctors can give a sick five-year-old girl from a Jehovah’s Witness family a blood transfusion.

The little girl’s parents said their religious beliefs would not allow them to consent to a blood transfusion.

But they said they would not object to a judge making the decision.

Mr Justice Hayden was told that the little girl was in a “grave” situation and could die or suffer a stroke if she did not have a transfusion.

The judge analysed evidence at a public hearing in the Family Division of the High Court in London on Wednesday after hospital bosses asked him to make a decision as a matter of urgency.

He said the little girl could not be identified in media reports.

But he said bosses at the Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust had responsibility for the girl’s care and had made the application.

He said the girl was being treated at Leeds Children’s Hospital.

The judge heard evidence via a telephone link to the hospital.

A specialist told Mr Justice Hayden that the little girl was suffering from sickle cell disease, an inherited blood disorder, and that her condition had deteriorated.

He said he feared a “life-threatening event” if the girl was not given a blood transfusion soon.

The girl’s father broke down as he told the judge that he wanted his daughter to live but could not agree to a blood transfusion.

He said he and the girl’s mother could let the judge make the decision.

Mr Justice Hayden said the law allowed judges to make such rulings.

Jehovah’s Witnesses say their attitude to blood stems from Biblical teaching.

“Both the Old and New Testaments clearly command us to abstain from blood,” says the religion’s website, www.jw.org.

“God views blood as representing life.

“So we avoid taking blood not only in obedience to God but also out of respect for him as the Giver of life.”

The website highlights a number of Biblical references, including passages in Genesis, Leviticus, Deuteronomy and Acts.

Hospital agree not to treat teenage Jehovah’s witness with blood products

In a separate case, hospital bosses have halted High Court litigation and agreed that a teenage Jehovah’s Witness should not be treated with blood products against his will.

They had asked a judge to make a decision about what was in the boy’s best interests but lawyers on Wednesday said an agreement had been reached.

A barrister representing the NHS hospital trust responsible for the boy’s care said another treatment would be tried.

Mr Justice Moor, who was preparing to analyse evidence in a hearing at the Family Division of the High Court in London, approved the agreement

The boy had insisted he could not be given a blood transfusion, or treated with blood products, because of his religious beliefs.

Lawyers had told the judge the boy was born abroad and had lived in England with a relative for some time.

They said the boy’s father was dead and his mother’s whereabouts were unknown.

The case echoes the plot of Ian McEwan’s 2014 novel The Children Act, which was made into a film starring Emma Thompson.

In the novel, a judge decides a 17-year-old Jehovah’s Witness should have a blood transfusion against his wishes, to save his life.

Mr Justice Moor approved the agreement at a private hearing on Wednesday.

He made an order barring media reports of the case from identifying the boy, who is in his mid-teens and lives in the South East.

The judge also said the trust could not be named in case that information created a jigsaw picture which revealed the boy’s identity.

Jehovah’s Witnesses say their attitude to blood stems from Biblical teaching.

“Both the Old and New Testaments clearly command us to abstain from blood,” says the religion’s website, www.jw.org.

“God views blood as representing life. So we avoid taking blood not only in obedience to God but also out of respect for him as the Giver of life.”

The website highlights a number of Biblical references, including passages in Genesis, Leviticus, Deuteronomy and Acts.

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2019, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) PA Wire.

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