VANCOUVER — A 14-year-old Jehovah’s Witness girl with bone cancer whose request to travel to the United States for treatment was rejected by an Ontario judge may be permitted to receive treatment at a New York hospital after all.
The turn of events comes after the judge sent the girl home to British Columbia after her family had travelled to Ontario seeking a treatment plan that doesn’t involve blood transfusions.
Since their return last week, the girl and her family have intensified their efforts to go south of the border. They are now asking the B.C. Ministry of Children and Family Development for permission to go to a New York hospital with a reputation for avoiding blood transfusions.
The parents’ lawyer, Shane Brady, said the ministry is to decide early next week whether to permit the girl to finish her treatment at the Schneider Children’s Hospital.
“There will be a final decision made by that time,” Mr. Brady said yesterday.
Mr. Brady said the girl had asked to leave British Columbia as early as this week, but an arrangement could not be worked out in time for her next chemotherapy appointment, which is to start today. Her next window for travelling would be early next week, he added.
Mr. Brady said an agreement could not be finalized this week between the province and the girl’s family about the conditions under which she can leave the country.
The girl, who cannot be named because of publication bans in British Columbia and Ontario, has waged court fights in two provinces for the right to refuse a blood transfusion.
Her legal drama began soon after she was diagnosed with bone cancer last December. Doctors treating her at Children’s Hospital in Vancouver warned that chemotherapy treatments would likely include blood transfusions.
The girl, who had a tumour removed from her right leg, was always adamant that she did not want a transfusion.
There are no legal impediments for adults who wish to refuse blood transfusions. But because the girl is a minor, her doctors contacted the B.C. Ministry of Children and Family Development.
It obtained a court order that permitted doctors to give the girl a transfusion if warranted.
The girl appealed, but a B.C. Supreme Court upheld the order. The girl and her family then flew to Toronto for a second opinion at the Hospital for Sick Children.
But when the B.C. government heard she had left the province, it obtained a court order in Ontario to apprehend her. It was not acted on because the girl and her family appeared before an Ontario judge to ask for permission to go to the United States. The Ontario judge refused, saying he believed the family was a flight risk.
Kate Thompson, a spokeswoman for the Ministry of Children and Family Development, would not confirm that the girl would be permitted to leave British Columbia for treatment.