An Ontario court has ordered a cancer-stricken girl from British Columbia, who had been refusing a blood transfusion, to return home.
The 14-year-old girl, whose identity is protected by a court-ordered publication ban, wept as Justice Victor Paisley of Ontario Superior Court read the decision. A Jehovah’s Witness, she says her religious beliefs forbid her from receiving someone else’s blood. Jehovah’s Witnesses consider blood to be sacred.
The girl has already undergone surgery to remove a tumour from her leg as well as several rounds of chemotherapy. The treatment stripped her blood of red blood cells, prompting calls for a transfusion.
The Ontario Superior Court judge said there was nothing faulty in an April 11 ruling by a B.C. judge ordering her to receive the medically-ordered transfusion.
Under B.C. law, only those 19 and older can refuse medical treatment.
“We’re obviously pursuing it fairly assertively because we are very concerned about this child’s safety,” Jeremy Berland of the B.C. Ministry for Children and Families told reporters outside the courthouse.
The girl and her family came to Ontario from B.C. last weekend. Their whereabouts were unknown, and it is believed they were staying with fellow Jehovah’s Witnesses in the Toronto area.
Toronto police did not actively look for the girl ahead of her court appearance Tuesday. However, an apprehension order issued in B.C. remains on police computers.
Family lawyer Shane Brady says the family came to Ontario to get a second opinion about the girl’s health at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children, and possibly an American hospital.
“She does not want a blood transfusion, but she wants to live,” said Brady. “She wants the best medical treatment, but she wants treatment by those who have given this type of treatment without blood transfusions. It’s a matter of choice.”
The family had indicated that their next stop for treatment without blood transfusions would be a medical centre in New York City.
Brady denies the family came to Ontario to enter a more lenient judicial jurisdiction to override the B.C. rulings.
CTV Toronto reporter Austin Delaney said there are still some legal avenues open to the girl. In Toronto, she can appeal Tuesday’s jurisdictional ruling. “Or she can do what the judge here said: go back to B.C. where they made the original ruling, and appeal there.”
The girl is being examined by doctors who are trying to determine if she is well enough to travel. If she is, reports CTV Toronto, the girl and her parents will be escorted back to B.C. as soon as possible.
With files from CTV News Toronto