Judge rules seriously ill boy, 13, can be treated against mothers beliefs

Teenager can be treated with blood products against the belief of his Jehovah's Witness mother

The Telegraph, UK/July 30, 2014

A seriously ill teenager can be treated with blood products even though his mother is unable to consent because of her religious beliefs, a High Court judge has ruled.

Mr Justice Cobb said the 13-year-old boy's mother was a Jehovah's Witness and was not ''happy''.

But the judge gave medics permission to administer ''plasma exchange treatment'' after concluding that without it the youngster's prospects of recovery were slight.

Detail of the case has emerged in a written ruling by Mr Justice Cobb following a hearing in the Family Division of the High Court.

The judge had been asked to make a decision by specialists treating the boy. He did not identify anyone involved.

''This treatment is ... controversial in this case because the mother is a Jehovah's Witness and finds herself unable, by virtue of her religious principles, to consent to this treatment,'' said Mr Justice Cobb.

"Without this treatment, the prospects for (the boy) of recovering very much from where he currently lies is slight.

''In my judgment, and taking account of the risks advised, and the views of his mother, I am nonetheless clearly of the view that it is in (his) best interests that he should receive this treatment and should receive it immediately in order to give him the best possible prospects of recovery.''

The judge said the youngster had been "a fit and healthy boy" last month but had been struck down by a disease which affected his central nervous system.

He said the teenager faced "potentially catastrophic ill health".

Specialists considered plasma exchange treatment as a "gold standard".

He said medics had told the youngster about the possibility of the treatment and he had given a "thumbs up".

The judge said the situation was urgent.

Jehovah's Witnesses say their attitude to blood stems from Biblical teaching.

"Both the Old and New Testaments clearly command us to abstain from blood," says the religion's website http://www.jw.org.

"God views blood as representing life. So we avoid taking blood not only in obedience to God but also out of respect for him as the Giver of life."

The website highlights a number of Biblical references, including passages in Genesis, Leviticus, Deuteronomy and Acts.

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