Blood battle lawsuit filed

Parents fought baby’s forced transfusion

Forcing a newborn Jehovah’s Witness to undergo a blood transfusion should cost the provincial government $50,000, a lawsuit claims.

A statement of claim, filed on behalf of the child and his Calgary parents, says the infant was seized illegally by Child Welfare.

The document, a copy of which was obtained yesterday by the Sun, alleges the couple was forced into a family court hearing without legal representation.

Child Welfare then used “inaccurate and misleading” medical information to get a temporary guardianship order which permitted the transfusion.

The young boy — who can’t be named under the Child Welfare Act — was seized two years ago, less than three weeks after he was born prematurely, weighing a scant two pounds, 10 ounces. When he developed a bowel infection, Dr. Doug McMillan recommended a blood transfusion, a procedure the parents felt was unnecessary and against their religious beliefs.

“They requested that Dr. McMillan consult with two other named expert neonatologists. Dr. McMillan declined,” the lawsuit, filed by lawyer Shane Brady says.

Brady was one of the lawyers in the Bethany Hughes case, the Calgary teen who died last year of leukemia after an failed court battle against transfusions for her cancer treatment.

The new lawsuit claims the parents were forced to appear in court Aug. 10, 2001 with an hour’s notice, preventing them from retaining counsel or arranging for an expert witness.

“Defendants violated (the) plaintiffs’ freedom of religion and conscience by requesting and permitting blood transfusions to be imposed on (the boy),” the lawsuit alleges.

Along with damages the court action seeks a declaration the family’s Charter rights were violated, including their religious freedom.

The action says the parents were willing to allow their son to undergo other procedures which didn’t involve transfusions.

“They accept standard medical treatment, but object to blood transfusions as a violation of the Biblical command … to ‘abstain from blood,’ ” it says.

The child, who has fully recovered, returned home to his parents’ care Sept. 27, 2001.

A statement of defence disputing the unproven allegations has not yet been filed.

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(Listed if other than Religion News Blog)
Calgary Sun, Canada
Aug. 29, 2003
Kevin Martin, Calgary Sun

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This post was last updated: Dec. 16, 2016