Brisbane: Judge Allows Blood Transfusion for Jehovah’s Witnesses Boy

Jehovahs Witness Blood Transfusion

A court in Brisbane recently asked a group of doctors to provide blood transfusion to a 7-year-old boy while carrying out his liver transplant, despite the order conflicting with the religious views of his parents, who happen to be Jehovah’s Witnesses. Supreme Court Judge James Douglas ordered that the boy, who has been suffering from portal hypertension as well as a genetic condition that could possibly affect his other organs, be given the necessary blood products not only during the transplant but also after its completion.

“If a transplant is made it would be likely to cure his liver disease and reverse the significant symptoms from which he suffers already, and would significantly improve his quality of life,” said Douglas.

According to the boy’s doctors, who have treated him since 2008, he must undergo a liver transplant within the next two or three years if his parents wish for him to stay alive. The procedure would not only help him get rid of hypertension but also offer him a higher quality of life.

“In my opinion, liver transplant is the only treatment available to address (the boy’s) condition and will give him the best chance of survival,” said one of the doctors. “In a small patient, even a relatively small amount of blood loss can be significant.”

The boy’s parents, who claim to be Jehovah’s Witnesses, object to blood transfusion on grounds of church doctrine that suggests every human’s blood is sacred, especially those belonging to their denomination. According to the parents, agreeing to undergo a blood transfusion would mean they are infringing upon an injunction in the Bible that requires them to abstain from blood.

The doctors said while the parents were in fact concerned for their son’s life, thus agreeing to a liver transplant, for some reason they wanted to back out when they were told about the blood transfusion.

“It seems to me appropriate to conclude that the sanctity of J’s life, in the end, is a more powerful reason for me to make the orders than is respect for the dignity of beliefs so sincerely held by his parents and him,’” Douglas said.

Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital, who is supposed to cure the young boy, had sought an order from the court to avoid any last-minute consent problems, in case a blood transfusion was deemed necessary for the patient. While the application was heard inside a closed court on June 12, the decision, without revealing identities of the boy, his parents, his doctors, the hospital, his school and lawyers, was made public last week. Before the order was passed, the boy’s parents requested Douglas that they wanted every effort to be made so as to minimize the transfusion of blood and administration of blood products. They also said they wanted their son to recover and were willing to follow any course of action that would ensure that. 

In an affidavit, a pediatric gastroenterologist said that a transfusion was necessary in 95 percent of transplants and the procedure tried to reuse blood that could be salvaged from the patient. He also mentioned that the younger the patient, the more severe the disease and greater are the chances that a blood transfusion would be required during the transplant.

Therefore, Douglas ruled that if deemed necessary, the doctors could provide the boy with blood transfusion without consulting his parents, as mandated under Queenland’s law.

Photo Credits: Arthur Ide

If you like our posts, subscribe to the Atheist Republic newsletter to get exclusive content delivered weekly to your inbox. Also, get the book "Why There is No God" for free.

Click Here to Subscribe

Donating = Loving

Heart Icon

Bringing you atheist articles and building active godless communities takes hundreds of hours and resources each month. If you find any joy or stimulation at Atheist Republic, please consider becoming a Supporting Member with a recurring monthly donation of your choosing, between a cup of tea and a good dinner.

Or make a one-time donation in any amount.