Court allows blood transfusion for newborn if needed


A DUBLIN maternity hospital has secured court orders allowing it to perform, if required, an emergency blood transfusion on a child said to be at risk of being born prematurely to a woman who is a member of the Jehovah’s Witnesses religious faith.

The High Court was told the child’s mother is about 26 weeks pregnant and recently presented to the Coombe maternity hospital with a spontaneous premature ruptured membrane.

Doctors at the hospital treating the woman, who cannot be identified by order of the court, say they cannot predict exactly when the child will be delivered but the likelihood of a premature birth is high.

If born prematurely, the child is likely to require a transfusion of blood or blood-related products in order to safeguard its life and prevent serious injury, the court was told. However, the parents had refused, for religious reasons, to give their consent to a transfusion should the need arise.

Mr Justice Kevin Feeney, having heard from the hospital and the child’s father, said this was an appropriate and urgent case to make the orders sought. The court had to be mindful of the child’s safety, wellbeing and of medical integrity.

Earlier, senior counsel Eileen Barrington, for the hospital, said concern for the child’s health arose from the high probability of a premature birth, particularly over the next four to five weeks.

The longer the birth could be delayed, the better the chance of a successful outcome and the hospital fully respected the parents’ beliefs, Ms Barrington added.

The child’s father said he and his wife could not consent to a blood transfusion as it was “conscientiously objected to” by him and members of his faith. If one was to be administered, he asked for it to be carried out by a senior consultant and also urged that all alternative treatments would be considered before transfusion.

His family was “very happy” with the treatment provided by the hospital and two of their other children were born there, he added.

Ms Barrington said it was hospital policy any decision about the care of patients would be made by the most senior person available, generally a consultant doctor.