Judge Orders Transfusion for Florida Boy

The Associated Press/July 23, 2005

Fort Myers, Florida -- A judge has overruled a mother's religious objections and ordered a blood transfusion for a 12-year-old boy who is battling sickle cell anemia.

The boy's mother, Leslie Raymond, is a Jehovah's Witness _ a religion that believes the Bible forbids transfusions.

The judge said Friday the mother's beliefs posed a threat to Appollo Raymond, who doctors said could die from complications of the disease without the transfusion.

"This is a very difficult balancing act for the court," Judge James Seals said. "I try to give every deference to the religious preference of the parent, but the life interest of the child supersedes the liberty interest of the parent."

Appollo Raymond was in serious condition at Children's Hospital. It was unknown Saturday if the transfusion had actually occurred.

Sickle cell disease, of which sickle cell anemia is one form, is an inherited blood disorder that affects red blood cells, which sometimes become sickle- or crescent-shaped and cannot easily pass through small blood vessels.

Judy Flowers, a medical social worker, said Leslie Raymond is "a wonderful person and a good mother."

"I'm sorry it had to come to this," Flowers said.

Courts across the country have firmly established a state's right to intervene to save a child. In 1944, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled adults cannot use religious beliefs to deny their children health care.

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