A 17-year-old boy in Australia has vowed to “rip out” the needle if doctors give him the blood transfusion that could save his life, but a judge says he has no right to make that decision.
Now the boy, a member of the Jehovah’s Witness religion which believes that blood transfusions are forbidden by Biblical law, is appealing the decision. He continues to fight for his right to die of cancer.
The boy’s doctor says that with the transfusion, the boy -- identified in public only as “X” -- has a 50 percent chance of surviving the Hodgkins lymphoma for which he was being treated. He requires a blood transfusion because chemotherapy has failed to get rid of tumors in his lungs, spleen and lymph nodes.
Increasing the intensity of chemo will make him anemic, doctors say, which means he will need transfusions to live.
The boy is 10 months shy of his 18th birthday, at which time under Australian law, he will be able to make his own decisions regarding medical treatment. On Tuesday, his lawyer David Bennett appeared in the New South Wales Court of Appeals to argue that X is mature enough now to make his own decision.
In April, Judge Ian Gzell acknowledged that the boy is “a mature child of high intelligence.'' But he overruled his wishes anyway.
''The sanctity of life in the end is a more powerful reason for me to make the orders than is respect for the dignity of the individual,'' said Gzell at the time.
Lawyers for Sydney Children's Hospital, where the boy is being treated, argued that due to his Jehovah’s Witness faith, the boy had a ''cocooned upbringing'' in which his family had ‘’little exposure to challenges of their beliefs from outsiders.’’
The boy’s father wrote a passage from the Bible on a note board in the boy’s hospital room, in which consuming blood is described as forbidden.
SOURCES: Sydney Morning Herald, Daily Telegraph