The WA Supreme Court recently ruled that staff at Princess Margaret Hospital for Children can give a teenaged cancer patient blood transfusions, even though he and his parents object to the treatment on religious grounds.
Doctors argued the 15-year-old, whose name has been suppressed, may need transfusions because of side effects from chemotherapy.
Dr Rosanna Capolingua, chair of Australian Medical Association ethics committee, said doctors were obliged to provide the best care possible.
“The AMA recognises that people do have different belief systems and that doctors have a priority to preserve life to provide best care,” she said.
“In this particular case, there was a minor involved and the parents did not want the child to be given a transfusion and the doctors felt it was in the best interests of the child to be given a transfusion.”
Dr Capolingua said doctors needed to get a court order to provide the blood transfusions.
“When there are clashes between best care and belief systems there needs to be a way of working through them,” she said.
Many Jehovah’s Witness refuse to accept blood transfusions because of a literal reading of the Bible.
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