MOUNT VERNON — Even though the decision may kill him, a 14-year-old boy can refuse a blood transfusion based on religious objections, a Skagit County judge decided today.
Saying the decision was not one he would make for his own children, Superior Court Judge John Meyer denied a motion by the state to force young Dennis Lindberg, a practicing Jehovah’s Witness from Mount Vernon, to have a blood transfusion.
Lindberg was diagnosed with leukemia on Nov. 6. Though he initially had some chemotherapy treatment at Children’s Hospital in Seattle, doctors stopped the treatment a week ago when Lindberg’s blood count was too low and he refused to get a blood transfusion. Lindberg has said his religious beliefs do not permit whole blood transfusions.
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The state presented the motion to Skagit County Superior Court after a Children’s Hospital administrator reported the situation, Meyer said. But Lindberg’s doctors support the boy’s decision, the judge said.
However, his birth parents, who do not have custody and flew in from Idaho to be at the hearing, think their son should have a transfusion. His aunt, Dianna Mincin, was made Lindberg’s legal custodian in January and is also a Jehovah’s Witness.
On Tuesday, Lindberg’s doctor told Meyer that the teen’s blood was hypoxic and that the doctor would not be surprised if the boy died overnight. However, Lindberg remained sedated and alive as the court hearing took place Wednesday morning.
“He knows very well by stating the position he is, he’s basically giving himself a death sentence,” Meyer said.
Wednesday’s hearing took place in a courtroom full of friends and parents of friends of Lindberg, who is an eighth-grader at La Venture Middle School in Mount Vernon. Even before Meyer could finish announcing his decision, a few people rushed out of the courtroom in tears. Parents of Lindberg’s friends claim that the teen should not be able to refuse the transfusion on his own.
“Dennis does present himself as a very mature man. But he really is just a child trying to please the adults around him,” said Jan Curry, whose daughter, Morgan, is his friend.