Boy (3) may be given blood transfusion, court rules


A THREE-year-old boy may be given a blood transfusion during surgery if necessary despite objections from his parents, who are Jehovah’s Witnesses, the president of 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 he and his wife wanted their son to get the best medical treatment but there was a core belief that blood “is not to be taken to the body”.

A consultant treating the child said in an affidavit there was a risk of death and brain damage if the hospital was not in a position to administer any transfusion.

The court heard the child required 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 SC, for the hospital, said.

Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns 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 last four months and required antibiotics, which was obviously to the distress of his parents, the judge said.

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

The child was referred to the hospital last year and his consultant decided last month he required surgery but the parents were not happy to proceed, Ms Barrington said. Given the history of infection and the delay in the child’s speech development, it had been decided to carry out the operation tomorrow.

Mr Justice Kearns said he appreciated the way in which the hospital approached the matter and showed great respect for the parents’ religion.

He also complimented the parents for the courteous and dignified manner in which they had put their views and made no order on costs of the application, meaning each side pays its own.