A three-year-old boy can be given a blood transfusion during surgery despite religious objections from his Jehovah's Witness parents, the High Court has ruled.
The child, who cannot be named, needs to have his tonsils removed because of recurring infections.
The boy's father told the court yesterday that while he and his wife wanted him to get the best medical treatment, it was a core belief that blood "is not to be taken to the body".
The child's consultant, in an affidavit, said if the hospital was not in a position to administer the transfusion, there was a risk of death and brain damage.
The surgery is scheduled for tomorrow, Eileen Barrington, for the hospital, told the court.
The child's GP explained that he had four episodes of infection in the past four months and required antibiotics. He was satisfied that, to the greatest extent possible, the hospital would refrain from giving the transfusion and it would only happen after a review by a senior consultant.
The parents said they would consent to certain blood products being administered -- but not red blood cells, which a consultant haematologist considered was vital -- if required, Ms Barrington said.
The hospital respected the parents' religious beliefs but did not want to be in a position where it might have to be making such an application in an emergency situation where time would be of the essence, Ms Barrington added.
High Court President Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns granted the hospital an order permitting a transfusion to be given if necessary.