Akron Children’s Hospital is currently engaged in a legal battle with the parents of Sarah Hershberger, a 10-year-old cancer patient at the hospital.
Sarah Hershberger has leukemia. She has tumors on her kidneys, chest, and neck. The Hershbergers, an Amish family, initially asked the hospital to use whatever treatment they deemed necessary to fight their daughter’s cancer.
Hershberger underwent several rounds of chemotherapy, and her tumors became visibly smaller. Doctors were encouraged, and gave Hershberger an 85% chance of survival.
But one day Hershberger told he parents that she wanted to stop chemotherapy. She said the treatment was making her feel ill, and she was worried about becoming infertile. Common side effects of chemotherapy are hair loss, nausea, organ damage, and infertility. The Hershberger’s decided they would stop chemotherapy treatments and give their daughter a regiment of herbal supplements and vitamins instead.
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The hospital did not want to discontinue treatment on Hershberger, and the case went to court.
In court, Judge John L. Lohn denied the hospital’s request to continue treatment against the Hershberger’s wishes.
“The court cannot deprive these parents of their right to make medical decisions for their daughter because there is not a scintilla of evidence showing the parents are unfit," Lohn wrote on July 31. "There was no basis in law and no basis in fact to file this action."
"Sarah begged her parents to stop the treatments,” Judge Lohh continued. "Anna said she and Andy could not stand to watch what was happening to their daughter."
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The hospital is appealing Judge Lohn’s decision, saying that “the question of Sarah’s treatment is life and death.”
Attorney and registered nurse Maria Schimer is representing the hospital in the case. The hospital is seeking temporary, limited guardian rights to Hershberger so that they will be legally entitled to make decisions regarding her health.
“The plan presented by Sarah’s parents is almost certain to lead to Sarah’s death,” Schimer said. “Every day that goes by without treatment, Sarah’s chance of surviving her cancer is diminished.”