Court orders blood transfusion for Jehovah's Witness children

Daily News, South Africa/December 7, 2018

By Anelisa Kubheka

Durban -- The parents of three children who have been diagnosed with conditions that require blood transfusions should their conditions deteriorate are expected to file opposing papers against an interim order extended in the Durban High Court.
The extended order permits doctors to go ahead with transfusions should they be required to. This is despite the parents, who are Jehovah’s Witnesses, not being in agreement with this since it goes against their religious beliefs.

The application was brought before court by the Health Department in October and the interim orders were granted pending the application.

The children - aged 9, 5 and 3 - are patients at Inkosi Albert Luthuli and Addington hospitals and were diagnosed with severe anaemia and sickle cell anaemia respectively.

The extended interim order stems from one that was granted at the weekend as a matter of urgency where the department sort relief to treat one child with a blood transfusion.

The weekend’s order saw two units of blood being administered to the child before the application was brought to court yesterday.

Two of the children have been discharged from hospital, with one still an out-patient whose condition is being monitored due to fluctuating haemoglobin levels.

Advocate Dashendra Naidoo, representing the department, told the court the 5-year-old boy was still at risk and his haemoglobin levels could unexpectedly drop.

The father of the 9-year-old girl asked to address the court after the interim order was extended.

He told the court that blood transfusions were against their religion and asked the court to stop the extension of the order.

“At least let other ways of treating the child be looked at. We took the child to hospital because we love her very much and wanted her to get the best medical help. We are not refusing for the child to be treated,”the father said.

In granting the interim order, Acting Judge Siphokazi Jikela said she had done so taking into consideration the interests of the children and their right to life.

“This court is the upper guardian of the child and has considered the child’s right to life.”

She told the parents they would be given an opportunity to raise their concerns in their replying affidavits.

“If you have any scientific reports with regards to alternative treatment, you can include them in those papers,” she said.

The judge told the father he needed to get an expert to verify the alternative treatment with information on how it could save the child’s life.

“At the moment, the interim order is meant to be used only in an emergency. Prior to the order being granted, the interest of the child was taken into consideration... In the meantime, we have to extend the interim order; this will give you time to prepare opposing affidavits,” she said.

Judge Jikela adjourned the matter to February 26, 2019 and said the parents should file their answering affidavits before January 18, 2019.

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