In making his ruling, B.C. Supreme Court Chief Justice Donald Brenner noted that the babies were born Jan. 7, 2007 at the B.C. Women’s and Children’s Hospital at 25 weeks and had extremely low birth weights, requiring resuscitation. They were admitted to an intensive care unit where they received life support including ventilation, oxygen, intravenous nutrition, the drug erythropoietin and other medications. Two babies died due to complications.
During the treatment of the other four, physicians deemed that blood transfusions were a medical necessity.
Transfusions were given against the wishes of the parents, who are members of a religion that opposes such medical procedures.
The director of child, family and community services went to the provincial court and obtained orders for blood transfusions for two of the babies and the director apprehended two of the kids and OK’d transfusions for them.
After the transfusions, the babies were returned to their parents and since then their development has progressed well without any significant health problems, said Brenner in his ruling.
But the parents decided to take the case to court, arguing that their rights were breached on a number of grounds, including that officials proceeded on the “stereotypical and paternalistic presumption that the treating doctor is always right and Jehovah’s Witness parents always wrong,” noted Brenner.
But after several days of hearings, including cross-examinations of physicians involved in administering the blood, Brenner concluded that no such breach had occurred.
“Both provincial court judges and the director when he elected to apprehend concluded that the proposed blood transfusions were a necessity,” he said.
“After much additional evidence adduced by both the parents and the director and extensive cross-examination, I have concluded that they were correct. For this reason there was no infringement of the parents’ [rights].”
The parents could not be reached for comment.