A five-month-old baby girl is to undergo heart surgery in Dublin next week after the High Court yesterday extended an order overruling opposition on religious grounds from her mother to the treatment, writes Martin Wall
The court was told that the baby’s mother, a member of the Jehovah’s Witnesses community, had withdrawn her consent to the use of blood and blood products in the treatment of her daughter.
Mr Justice Abbott yesterday allowed Our Lady’s Hospital for Sick Children in Crumlin to proceed with the transfusion of blood and blood products as part of an operation scheduled for next Wednesday to save the life of the baby.
The presiding minister of the Jehovah’s Witnesses community in Dublin, Mr Arthur Matthews, told The Irish Times last night that such court cases were very uncommon.
He said many surgeons agreed to carry out “bloodless surgery” when a member of the community required an operation. The Jehovah’s Witnesses community observed an instruction in the Bible to abstain from blood, he added.
There have been two similar cases in recent years of the courts or the health authorities overruling the objections of members of the Jehovah’s Witnesses community to blood transfusions for their children. One case was in Waterford and the other in Belfast.
The baby was born with a hole in her heart last March and was transferred to Crumlin.
At first the baby’s mother had agreed to the use of blood and blood products as part of the treatment. However, the court heard that following “support” from the Jehovah’s Witnesses community, she had later withdrawn her consent.