Judge rules 14-year-old Jehovah's Witness can have blood transfusions during cancer treatment after neither he or family could give consent due to beliefs

Daily Mail, UK/November 18, 2019

By Danyal Hussain

A High Court judge has ruled that a 14-year-old Jehovah's Witness can undergo blood transfusions during cancer treatment - despite his and his mother's objections.

Mrs Justice Roberts made the ruling after the youngster and his mother, who is also a Jehovah's Witness, said religious beliefs prevented them from agreeing to a blood transfusion.

At a recent private hearing in the Family Division of the High Court in London, the judge concluded that the boy's life would probably be at risk if he did not undergo transfusions. 

She said the teenager, who has a form of lymphatic cancer, could not be identified in media reports of the case and she has not named the hospital trust which asked her to decide whether transfusions would be in the boy's best interests.

Neither the teenager or his mother could give doctors consent to perform a transfusion because of their Jehovah's Witness beliefs.

But both said they would respect the law and any decision made by a judge.

The teenager has also said he wanted to live and return to 'normal life'.

The case echoes the 2017 movie The Children Act, which stars Emma Thompson.

In the movie, she plays a High Court judge who must decide if she should order a life-saving blood transfusion for a teenager with cancer despite his family's refusal to accept medical treatment for religious reasons.

In real life, the judge explained her decision by saying: 'Without the proposed treatment, I am satisfied that there is a very significant and material risk that the cancer from which (the boy) suffers at the present time will spread and the probability is that his life will be put at risk as a result.

'I am left in no doubt that the anger and upset he may well feel as a result of the authorised imposition of any treatment which involves the use of blood products contrary to the tenets of his religious beliefs are likely to be eclipsed by the ultimate benefits of the proposed potentially life-saving treatment which has been planned for him.'

Jehovah's Witnesses traditionally object to blood transfusions and treatment with blood products and say their attitude to blood stems from biblical teaching.

Their website, www.jw.org, says: 'Both the Old and New Testaments clearly command us to abstain from blood.

'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.'

It highlights a number of biblical references, including passages in Genesis, Leviticus, Deuteronomy and Acts.

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