Simon Collins

Simon Collins is the Herald’s social issues reporter.

Church won't 'shun family' despite blood transfusion

Jehovah's Witnesses say a 2-year-old girl will still be 'a very beloved member of the family' even after blood transfusion. Photo / Thinkstock
Jehovah's Witnesses say a 2-year-old girl will still be 'a very beloved member of the family' even after blood transfusion. Photo / Thinkstock

Jehovah's Witnesses say a 2-year-old girl will still be "a very beloved member of the family" even if doctors give her a life-saving blood transfusion which her parents believe is banned by the Bible.

A High Court judge has placed the girl under the guardianship of the court for six months so doctors at Auckland's Starship hospital can override her parents' objections to giving her blood transfusions to support liver and kidney transplants.

All details identifying the girl, referred to as "M", are suppressed.

The Auckland District Health Board, which sought the court order, said the parents had also asked it not to release any details of the girl's condition. The court judgment, issued on June 27, said that "without a liver and kidney transplant M will most likely die from infection within weeks to a couple of months".

Her kidneys and spleen have been removed because of a rare congenital disease. She is being kept alive by renal dialysis, and doctors told the court there was only "a small window of opportunity" for a transplant before her condition deteriorated too far.

The co-ordinator of the NZ committee of Jehovah's Witnesses, Monty Gower, said the girl's family had been working closely with the hospital for a year or so and had an excellent rapport with the doctors.

But he said the Bible clearly forbade consuming blood, both in the Old Testament book of Leviticus and again in the New Testament book of Acts.

However, the church would not shun the girl or her parents if doctors gave her blood transfusions without their consent. "Even if the kiddie has a transfusion, she is still a very beloved member of the family. Our attitude towards her would never change."

Justice Helen Winkelmann appointed two Starship doctors as the court's agents for medical treatment but she appointed M's parents as the court's agents for all other purposes.

BLOOD BAN

* "You must not eat the blood of any sort of flesh, because the soul of every sort of flesh is its blood." Leviticus 17: 14

* "Keep abstaining from things sacrificed to idols and from blood and from things strangled and from fornication." Acts 15: 29.

- NZ Herald

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