Hospital granted permission by court to give blood to baby


THE HIGH Court has granted a Dublin maternity hospital orders allowing it to perform, if required, an emergency blood transfusion to a baby born prematurely just over a week ago.

The child, weighing less than a kilogram, was born in the Coombe hospital to Jehovah’s Witnesses parents who have refused to consent to a transfusion should it become necessary in an emergency.

Yesterday at the High Court, Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy, after hearing submissions from both the child’s father and the hospital, said he was satisfied to make orders allowing the hospital to administer a transfusion to the baby girl, who cannot be identified by order of the court, should the need arise.

The judge’s ruling means a transfusion will only be given to the baby should her condition deteriorate and it becomes necessary to save her life.

Eileen Barrington, counsel for the chief executive of the hospital, told the court the child was not in imminent danger. However, medical staff were concerned that if anything were to go wrong, it could go wrong very quickly.

The baby had been born at 28 weeks and five days in the maternity hospital last week and counsel said the baby still weighed less than a kilogram.

Given the baby’s condition, counsel said the child may require emergency treatment should she develop a number of serious conditions including an infection or respiratory difficulties.

If the child developed an infection, the risks included permanent brain damage or death.

Ms Barrington said doctors treating the child stated the only way an infection could be treated was by transfusion of blood or blood products.

“While this has been explained to the parents, however, they had refused to consent to a transfusion,” Ms Barrington said, adding the hospital was “aware of and fully respected the parents’ religious beliefs”. The child’s father, who was not legally represented, told the court that this was a stressful time for the family, particularly the child’s mother.

The family was “very happy” with the treatment their daughter received from the hospital to date but they “could not consent to a blood transfusion”.

“We love our girl, we want the best for her,” he said, adding that the family would like “all other options to be tried first”. His daughter was “not sick now, she is very well” before adding “the best we can hope for is that this would be used as a last resort”.

The judge, in granting the hospital the orders it sought, also gave the child’s parents permission to have the matter mentioned again before the courts should the circumstances change.