Doctors in standoff with parents of girl who needs blood

Jehovah's Witnesses forbid transfusion

CNN News, January 20, 2000

MANAGUA, Nicaragua (Reuters) -- A 10-year-old Nicaraguan girl, Hazel Borge, could soon die because her parents -- devout Jehovah's Witnesses -- are refusing to allow doctors to give her a blood transfusion.

"The committee in charge of evaluating special cases held an urgent meeting at the hospital to evaluate this special case," said Ramiro Lopez, a director of The Velez Hospital in Managua. "The committee decided that a blood transfusion is necessary, because otherwise the girl will die."

"We told this to the girl's parents, and they came here with legal representation from the Jehovah's Witness Organization. They signed a document in which the parents are absolutely opposed to the blood transfusion," said Lopez.

The girl was in a car accident on January 10 in which both her legs were fractured and she lost a lot of blood. But Jehovah's Witnesses have deep religious convictions against accepting whole blood, red blood cells and white blood cells.

In spite of the parents' wish not to give the child a blood transfusion, doctors at the hospital went ahead with the procedure to save the girl's life after she went into shock.

Doctors at the hospital have warned that unless further surgery is performed on the girl, she could once again go into shock and could possibly die. She requires urgent surgery to amputate one of her legs, which would require more blood transfusions -- a procedure her parents are against.

"Doctors have spoken with us, and ... the blood is not going to repair my girl's leg. The blood is not the solution. The solution is to repair her leg," said Maria Felix Bermudes, the girl's mother.

The case has drawn great public interest.

"The state must protect children and teen-agers who are in risky situations. In this situation, it is obvious that the girl is in danger due to the parents' decision," said children's court Judge Venicia Venegas.

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