Right to life takes precedence over the right to religion.
A 12-year-old Jehovah’s Witness girl has received a life-saving blood transfusion that she did not want after a Johannesburg High Court order gave doctors the go-ahead.
The girl, who suffers from leukaemia, was admitted to Chris Hani-Baragwanath Hospital on Tuesday. Despite being told that a blood transfusion was needed to save her life, the girl and her parents refused to consent to the procedure.
Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that it’s against God’s will to take other people’s blood, or one’s own blood that has been stored, into one’s body.
The official website of Watchtower, a Jehovah’s Witness organisation to which The Star was referred by the Jehovah’s Witnesses of South Africa, says: “True Christians will not accept a blood transfusion. They want to live, but they will not try to save their life by breaking God’s laws.”
The Gauteng Department of Health said doctors consulted the girl’s parents and church elders to explain the need for the transfusion. When their explanations were rejected, they brought an urgent application before the High Court on Wednesday.
The court order was issued on the same day, and the girl was given a transfusion immediately.
According to Department of Health spokesperson Phumelele Kaunda, the parents respected the court’s decision.
The girl is doing well.
SA Human Rights Commission chairperson Jody Kollapen said that in such cases, the right to life took precedence over the right to religion.
He said adults were regarded as fit to make informed decisions about their own bodies, but in the case of a child, state intervention was sometimes necessary.