The tenets of the Jehovah’s Witness religion dictate that its adherents are not allowed to undergo a blood transfusion, but a court has now ordered that doctors have the right to go ahead and perform one anyway if the child of someone who practices the religion is in danger, IOL has reported.
The interim order will force three sets of parents, each of which has a child suffering from a disease that may require blood transfusions, to allow doctors to go ahead with the operation if their conditions deteriorate.
The order affects the families of three children, aged nine, five, and three, who have cases of either sickle cell anaemia or severe anaemia.
Their families are, however, expected to file opposing papers in a bid to have the court order overturned.
The father of the nine-year-old girl said: “At least let other ways of treating the child be looked at. We took the child to hospital because we love her very much and wanted her to get the best medical help. We are not refusing for the child to be treated.”
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But acting judge Siphokazi Jikela said the children’s right to life trumps their parents’ right to religious freedom.
Dr Noxolo Mbadi, the paediatrician of the five-year-old boy who has sickle cell anaemia, is one of the applicants in the case. She said the court order was necessary because in the event of an emergency she would need to act immediately.
“As a physician, it is my responsibility to do what is necessary to save the life of the minor child and the administering of the blood transfusion is part of the management of the minor child and must be administered as soon as the need arises,” said Mbadi, according to TimesLive.
The matter has been adjourned to February 26, 2019, pending the submission of the answering affidavits of the parents.
(Compiled by Daniel Friedman)