Court approves blood transfusion over home therapy

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The life of a five-year-old Durban boy has been saved after his paediatrician went to court to approve a life-saving blood transfusion for him in defiance of his parents’ religious beliefs. An urgent interim order was granted a month ago to allow the boy, who suffers from sickle cell anaemia, to receive blood transfusions as and when necessary, says a Sunday Times report.

But the child’s parents, who are deaf, told the court on Friday via a sign language interpreter that they still plan to oppose the application on religious grounds, even if it means losing the child. Jehovah’s Witnesses are forbidden from receiving blood products or transfusions.

On 28 September, Advocate Dashendra Naidoo brought an urgent application for an interim order when KZN Health MEC Sibongiseni Dhlomo and Addington Hospital paediatrician Dr Noxolo Mbadi submitted they could ‘not allow the child to deteriorate without a blood transfusion, which is the only option to save his life’. According to the doctor’s notes presented to court, the parents understood the seriousness of the condition but requested home therapy.

The court adjourned the matter to 5 December to allow the parents to file opposing papers while the interim order remains in place. Centre for Child Law director Ann Skelton said the law was clear that parents could not object to medical treatment on religious grounds.

However, the court does allow for objections in favour of alternative medical treatment options if there are any available. ‘In this case it appears the court found it was urgent to grant the order and said that it could be argued at a later stage.’

Full Sunday Times report (subscription needed)

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