Quebec judge orders Jehovah's Witness, 14, to undergo blood transfusions
Published Thursday, September 21, 2017 8:04AM EDT
A Quebec judge has decided that a 14-year-old Jehovah’s Witness who has cancer must undergo blood transfusions, despite her expressed wishes not to receive them.
The teenager, who is not named, learned in June that she has Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a rare form of cancer that affects the white blood cells. It has an excellent survival rate, if treated early.
The treatment involves chemotherapy, which often requires blood transfusions. But as a Jehovah’s Witness, the girl’s faith states that it is against God’s wishes to consume or be transfused with any blood.
The girl, who had just turned 14 at the time of her diagnosis, refused to accept any transfusions.
Under Quebec law, minors over the age of 14 can refuse certain health services. However, if the child’s parents or a hospital wants to administer those services, they can seek a judge’s permission.
In his decision released earlier this month, Judge Lukasz Granosik noted that the girl had embraced her religion at a young age and was baptized at age 12 of her own accord.
McGill University Health Centre, where the girl was being treated, contended the girl was not mature enough to make such decisions and was under pressure from her parents to refuse the transfusions.
In his ruling, Granosik noted the girl was bright and articulate, but he also said she spoke about death "almost with resignation.”
Noting that the law is designed to protect children even from themselves, he ordered the girl to undergo any blood transfusions necessary to save her life
The girl’s hematologist-oncologist says the girl’s prognosis with full treatment is excellent, with a 97 per cent chance of recovery.
The hospital has promised to use blood transfusions only if the girl’s life is in danger, and to use other methods to avoid transfusions when possible.
There is no known update on the teen's current health status.