Jehovah's Witnesses, CPS reach agreement over baby's care

Star-Tribune/December 5, 2003

Waco, Texas -- The state has reached a tentative agreement with a Jehovah's Witness couple who have opposed blood transfusions for their son born 15 weeks premature.

The agreement reached Thursday between attorneys for Child Protective Services and Shawn and Alicia Castillo clears the way for the couple to transfer their son to a Fort Worth hospital. Doctors there are trained in alternate methods of treatment that could reduce the need for transfusions.

The deal allows the state to authorize blood transfusions that go against the parents' religious beliefs.

The order was to be signed by the judge Friday after minor details were resolved, the Waco Tribune-Herald reported in Friday editions.

Child Protective Services took custody of 1-pound, 9-ounce Connor soon after his Nov. 16 birth because his parents refused to allow transfusions. Connor was too small to produce blood and needed a dozen or more transfusions to survive, doctors argued in court documents.

Connor has continued to receive transfusions and remains in an incubator at Hillcrest Baptist Medical Center in Waco.

Representatives from both sides say the original removal order reflects a medical issue and does not indicate any abuse by the Castillos.

More than 50 friends, family members and fellow worshippers packed Waco's 74th State District Court on Thursday to listen to Judge Alan Mayfield go over the agreement.

According to the order, the state will act as Connor's custodian only when doctors feel a transfusion is needed. The parents will be in charge of all other matters, including where and by whom Connor is treated.

The order also says that when doctors give Connor blood, it should be no more than medically necessary.

"This type of case, where there's a clash between medical legal requirements and religious beliefs, can become uncomfortable," said W. McNab Miller III, the couple's Houston-based attorney. "Delightfully, no one ran roughshod over the religious beliefs of the family."

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