Religion Vs. Science: Parents Denied New Zealand Baby to Get Cancer Treatment, Lost Court Battle

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By Reissa Su | September 10, 2013 12:17 PM EST

A New Zealand baby diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer has been turned over to the New Zealand High Court and placed under its care.  The parents of the 10-month-old baby refused to get her blood transfusions for her cancer treatment. 

In August, doctors in New Zealand found a large tumour in the right side of the baby's chest.  Doctors said the tumour was cancer and told the parents she had cancer in her bones.  If she will be given blood transfusions for her treatment, she has a 90 per cent chance of survival. 

Her parents will not agree to have their child undergo blood transfusion because they are Jehovah's Witnesses. 

Jehovah's Witnesses believe that ingesting blood or blood transfusions are prohibited in the Bible.  They also believe Christians should not donate their own blood or accept blood donations.  This belief is based on their interpretation of the Bible which differs from the most Christian denominations. 

If the New Zealand baby will not receive blood transfusions in time, her condition might develop life-threatening complications.

The New Zealand High Court has granted the application of the Auckland District Board to place the baby under its guardianship for nine months.  This will allow the baby to receive the blood transfusions she needed. 

The New Zealand baby was given an urgent blood transfusion when doctors performed a biopsy on her tumour.  The law allowed this procedure in a critical situation. 

The baby's parents allowed her to have chemotherapy and undergo surgery for tumour removal.  They refused to allow the blood transfusions and cited their religious beliefs. 

Justice Helen Winkelman of the New Zealand High Court has appointed the baby's parents as general agents of the court.  They will still care for the child except when it comes to the administration of blood.

Justice Winkelman said it is important for the parents to continue supporting their child.  She hoped the court order will relieve them of their religious dilemma. Doctors were appointed as the agents for the administration of blood. 

The names of the New Zealand baby and her parents were intentionally withheld for privacy and safety reasons.

A similar case was also heard in the High Court in July 2012 when a 2-year-old girl from Auckland was denied blood transfusion by her parents since they are Jehovah's Witnesses.   She was placed under court guardianship to allow her to receive blood transfusion.

The girl was suffering from a rare kidney disease.  The blood transfusions were recommended to prolong her life along with a liver and kidney transplant.  

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