The search for a cancer-stricken B.C. girl, believed to be hiding among fellow Jehovah’s Witnesses in the Toronto area to avoid blood transfusions, stalled yesterday as authorities prepared to go to court.
Although Toronto Police aren’t actively seeking the 14-year-old, expecting the issue to become a court battle, an order of apprehension issued in B.C. remains on police computers.
Late Saturday Judge Peter Jarvis of the Ontario Superior Court held a hastily called hearing about the girl.
Some cancer patients require transfusions because chemotherapy inhibits the production of blood cells.
Doctors want the authority to give the girl a blood transfusion if they determine she would die without one.
“What we have here is a case whether a capable person of any age can decide her treatment,” said Shane Brady, the family’s lawyer.
Although Jehovah’s Witnesses say blood transfusions go against their beliefs, religion is not the primary issue, Brady said.
The hearing is expected to resume at 10 a.m. tomorrow in Superior Court in Toronto.
The court and police don’t know where the teen, her 43-year-old dad and 41-year-old mom are, but Brady said they will be at the hearing.
The hearing is to challenge an April 11 B.C. Supreme Court ruling ordering the girl to undergo blood transfusions.
B.C. courts ruled the girl is capable of making a decision, but B.C. law requires that a person be 19 years or older before they are allowed to refuse lifesaving medical treatment.
Brady denied that the family came to Ontario last weekend to enter a more lenient judicial jurisdiction that would override the B.C. rulings.
He said the teen is between chemotherapy treatments and came to Toronto seeking a second opinion from the Hospital for Sick Children and, if necessary, from a U.S. hospital.
He refused to say if he knows where the family is staying, but he said authorities in Ontario, such as the Children’s Aid Society, know her whereabouts.
The girl had surgery to the right leg to remove a tumour.
Brady said the teen is seeking an alternative to blood transfusions. He said reports that she needs urgent transfusions were “grossly unfounded.”
The teen, who usually covers her bald head with a hat, is believed to be using crutches or a wheelchair. An air ambulance to return her to B.C. is on standby, sources said.
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