A baby suffering from heart disease should receive blood during surgery despite the objections of his parents, a High Court judge has ruled.
The boy’s parents are Jehovah’s Witnesses, a Christian denomination who hold a religious objection to blood transfusions.
Doctors said the boy would not survive without urgent surgery. His parents agreed to the operation but objected to him receiving blood during the procedure. Doctors at Birmingham Children’s Hospital applied for a legal order which would allow the transfusion to proceed.
The judge said:
”Their objection is on the basis of their religious beliefs as Jehovah’s Witnesses and they cannot consent to [their son] receiving blood products during or subsequent to the surgery. I entirely understand and sympathise with the stance of these parents.”
But, he added:
”Standing back and looking at [the baby’s] welfare best interests, I am in no doubt whatsoever that it is in his best interests to undergo the surgery that is proposed.”
He added: ”On the basis that that is my view, it is inevitable that he must receive blood transfusions during the course of or subsequent to the surgery.”
In a speech on religion and the legal system given in October last year, Sir James Munby, President of the Family Division, cited Jehovah’s Witnesses views on blood transfusion as an example of a belief in which the courts would always prioritise the best interests of any children.