Health New Zealand is heading to court over the guardianship of a baby in need of heart surgery as the boy’s parents are refusing to allow blood from vaccinated people to be used in the operation, it is understood.
Court records show documents had been filed with the Auckland High Court yesterday and Health New Zealand/Te Whatu Ora is listed as the applicant for proceedings set down for tomorrow.
The NZ Herald understands Te Whatu Ora is seeking the guardianship of the 4-month-old be shifted from his parents to the courts so consent to use donated blood in the required open-heart surgery can be given.
The New Zealand Blood Service’s website said blood was not divided by whether donors were vaccinated or unvaccinated. It also stated there was no evidence there was any risk in using blood from a vaccinated person.
It was understood an urgent hearing would be sought soon after tomorrow’s initial appearance in the High Court.
Te Whatu Ora Auckland interim director Dr Mike Shepherd acknowledged it could be worrying when parents had to make decisions about their children’s care.
“The decision to make an application to the court is always made with the best interests of the child in mind and following extensive conversations with whānau,” he said.
He wouldn’t comment further with the matter before the court.
The Herald has sent questions to the baby’s parents through a representative.
Auckland University’s Immunisation Advisory Centre medical director Professor Nikki Turner told Newstalk ZB Covid-19 was widespread in New Zealand and that would be reflected in the nation’s blood.
“Almost all blood in New Zealand will have Covid antibodies in them so unless you’re going to refuse all blood, I can’t imagine how you’ll get round this,” she said.
“The next thing is that Covid antibodies per se are not in any way going to be a problem for the person receiving them, they’re just going to offer the person extra protection against Covid disease.”
Turner couldn’t recall an instance when blood had been deemed ill-suited to be donated because the person had been vaccinated.
“From a scientific point of view, no I can’t think of anything that would make sense at all.
“I think it may be that people confuse the fact that the product in a vaccine is being injected into somebody but it’s not the product in the vaccine that is the response, the response is the body’s response to that [vaccine] that creates the immune response.”
New Zealand Blood Service (NZBS) chose not to comment citing the impending court action.
Associate Health Minister Peeni Henare, also the responsible minister for the NZBS, said in a statement that the “health matter” was between Te Whatu Ora and the child’s whānau, and he said it was inappropriate to comment further as it was before the court.
Requests for comment from Health Minister Andrew Little were referred to Henare’s office. Covid-19 Response Minister Dr Ayesha Verrall could not be contacted for comment.
In an online video, the parents claim they are concerned blood containing a vaccine would be used during the operation needed by the 4-month-old, despite their fears reportedly being dismissed by medical professionals and information published by the New Zealand Blood Service.
In the video, the parents were interviewed by former TV newsreader Liz Gunn, who has repeatedly voiced Covid-19 mistruths and was seen earlier this year confronting a news reporter about claims of fainting children at an Auckland vaccination centre - a claim that was rubbished by health officials.
The parents were reportedly being interviewed in Auckland’s Starship children’s hospital alongside their baby. The parents say the child needs open-heart surgery after being diagnosed with “severe pulmonary valve stenosis”.
The New Zealand Heart Foundation described stenosis as when one of the heart’s valves didn’t open properly, meaning pressure and blood could back up and cause strain on the heart.
However, the parents said they didn’t want the surgery to use blood that came from a person vaccinated for Covid-19.
The pair claimed they had more than 20 unvaccinated people who were willing to donate blood, but this had not been approved by the New Zealand Blood Service (NZBS).
The parents, alongside Gunn, reportedly had a meeting with a doctor and a surgeon on the matter and their concerns were dismissed, according to the video.
The video, uploaded on Monday, stated Gunn’s interview was occurring on a Friday and the surgery was supposed to take place on a Tuesday. It was unclear whether they were referring to Tuesday this week.
The New Zealand Blood Service website featured frequently asked questions relating to blood donation and Covid-19 vaccination that included whether the vaccine was passed on through donation among other points.
The website confirmed any Covid-19 vaccine was “broken down” in the blood soon after injection and would not be transferred to recipients of donations.
“All donated blood also gets filtered during processing, so any trace amounts that may still be present poses no risk to recipients,” it said.
Concerning Covid-19′s spike protein, NZBS said it was present in “vanishingly small quantities” in the blood of some people for the first two weeks after vaccination.
“It is not found in the blood after this time period has passed. There is no evidence that this represents any risk to recipients.”
People who have been vaccinated with certain vaccines were required to delay donations until 28 days after vaccination. However, there was no stand-down period for those who had received the Pfizer vaccine, which had been widely used in New Zealand.
The NZBS website confirmed donated blood was not separated into vaccinated and unvaccinated sources because blood was filtered during processing.