A critically ill baby has been removed from his parents after they refused their child a blood transfusion in fear that the donor may have had a COVID vaccine.
The six-month-old baby, who we will refer to as Baby W to protect his identity, has a heart valve disorder. Due to the parent’s refusal to allow their baby a transfusion, the matter made its way to court in New Zealand.
After hearing the full story, Justice Ian Gault delivered his ruling. The baby has been temporarily removed from the parents’ care and will remain in the care of Starship Hospital.
He has since had his heart surgery and is in stable condition.
Parents refuse baby’s blood transfusion
This is the situation:
- We’ve got one very ill baby who needs heart surgery and blood.
- We’ve also got two parents who are very much against any blood transfusion that could come from someone who has had the COVID vaccine. 84% of New Zealanders have had at least one dose. We have chosen to keep the parents’ names out of this story.
- We also have a very concerned staff at the hospital who has requested temporary custody of the infant so they can help him.
The parents are obviously very concerned for their son and, as Justice Gault mentioned, they are very loving and only want what’s best for their child. But, in this case, as Gault explained, what’s best for the child isn’t compatible with their requests.
To complicate matters more, the parents did put in a request to have a tailored donor service for their son to receive blood exclusively from unvaccinated donors. However, this request was denied.
A lawyer for the blood service, Adam Ross KC, on Wednesday explained that it would jeopardise the integrity of the donor service.
The infant’s best interests
The baby, who was born two months premature, remains in the hospital. Medical professionals deemed it unsafe to bring the infant to court, but the parents ignored the hospital’s requests and did so anyway.
Te Whatu Ora – Health New Zealand Paul White (who is representing the hospital), said that the child’s heart is suffering damage because of the delay in surgery due to the build-up of blood resulting from pulmonary valve stenosis.
“His survival is actually dependent on the application being granted,” Paul White said.
Justice Gault delivered his verdict on Tuesday:
“The issue here is what is in the baby’s best interests.
For these reasons, and given that the baby needs urgent surgery, an order enabling the surgery to proceed using [NZ Blood Service blood products] without further delay is in the baby’s best interests.”
Health New Zealand was granted temporary custody of the infant and the baby will remain in their care at Starship Children’s Hospital.
Wrong on every level
The decision had already brought a lot of tension and support, especially among those who oppose the COVID vaccination.
There have been hundreds of protesters lined up outside the courts during the hearing and daily updates provided through the Free NZ Media Facebook page.
Former TV host Liz Gunn, now an anti-vaccine activist, appeared in court beside the parents when they took their baby to the hearing against medical advice.
She later addressed the crowd of supporters outside, expressing her disgust at the court’s decision.
“New Zealand I have absolutely devastating news,” she said. “Little [baby] is going to be handed to Starship Hospital. This is wrong on every level.”
Sue Grey, who represented the parents, is also a co-leader of the NZ Freedom and Outdoors Party. She said on social media in response to the ruling it was “a bad day in NZ law and medicine and human rights and logical sense.”
“What we have is loving parents … with beliefs that contrast with the medical profession’s views based on science.”
Baby W doing well
Since the hearing, the infant has been removed from his parents’ house and has undergone his operation. In a statement, the parents explained how their son is stable in the hospital. The parents are with him but have not been offered a family room in the hospital.
It is unknown when the parents will regain custody of their son.