8 Dec 2022

Blood donor case: Parents try to prevent doctors preparing baby for surgery

10:46 pm on 8 December 2022
e Whatu Ora is taking a case against parents who are refusing to allow blood from vaccinated people to be used during their baby's life-saving heart operation.

File photo taken outside court last week of the mother speaking to reporters. Photo: RNZ / Mohammad Alafeshat

The parents of the baby needing urgent heart surgery have tried to stop doctors preparing the infant for the operation.

The High Court has responded by ordering the parents not to obstruct health staff at Starship Hospital.

Te Whatu Ora has asked for the police to step in and also asked the court if officers are entitled to use reasonable force to remove the baby from the parents.

The baby was placed under guardianship of the High Court until completion of his surgery and post-operative recovery yesterday.

Te Whatu Ora asked the High Court to take over guardianship of the baby, whose operation had been delayed because his parents did not want doctors to use blood from anyone who had the Covid-19 vaccine.

The four-month-old urgently needs open heart surgery, which is likely to require a blood transfusion.

In his decision yesterday, Justice Gault also said doctors from Te Whatu Ora had been made agents of the court to carry out the surgery, including the adminstration of any blood products.

In a minute issued this evening, Justice Gault said he had been informed by the lawyer acting for Te Whatu Ora that the baby's parents had prevented doctors from taking blood tests, performing a chest X-ray and performing an anaesthetic assessment.

The lawyer understood the parents had threatened to lay criminal charges against medical staff if they went ahead, Justice Gault said.

He issued another minute seeking a response from the parents. Their lawyer, Sue Grey, responded, asking for the opinions of two US doctors to be considered. She also said it would be "extreme overreach" if police were called in to remove the baby from his parents so the surgery could go ahead.

Justice Gault said Grey was effectively seeking to re-open the substantive case that he had already ruled on.

"Baby W urgently requires surgery and, as I concluded in my judgment, an order enabling the surgery to proceed using NZBS [New Zealand Blood Service] blood products without further delay is in Baby W's best interests," Justice Gault wrote.

As the parents no longer consented to the surgery or pre-operative checks, he was making more explicit ancillary orders, extending the appointment of two doctors to enable the operation to go ahead, as well as any pre-op checks.

The parents were not to obstruct health staff in this regard, Justice Gault said.

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