Judge to decide on blood treatment for teenage Jehovah's Witness

BBC News/June 6, 2019

A High Court judge has been asked to rule whether a teenage Jehovah's Witness with leukaemia should be treated with "blood products" against his wishes.

The boy, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, recently arrived in England from abroad and is living in the south east.

Mr Justice Francis analysed preliminary issues at a hearing in the Family Division of the High Court in London.

A trial is due in the near future.

The teenager's father is dead, his mother's whereabouts are unknown and he lives with a relative, the judge was told.

Bosses at an NHS trust responsible for his treatment have asked for decisions to be made about what is in the boy's best interests.

Barrister John McKendrick QC, who is leading the trust's legal team, said the boy had refused to consent to treatment involving "blood products".

He said the teenager was "extremely articulate about his Jehovah's Witness faith".

Mr McKendrick said trust bosses were currently respecting the boy's views and doctors were not treating him with blood products.

The boy will be represented at any trial by a specialist guardian, appointed by Mr Justice Francis, who will instruct lawyers on his behalf.

The case has echoes of Ian McEwan's 2014 novel The Children Act, which was made into a film starring Emma Thompson.

In the novel a judge called Fiona Maye decides a 17-year-old Jehovah's Witness should have a blood transfusion against his wishes to save his life.

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