This story is familiar – and we wish it wasn’t.
A young boy, who is known only as “J” is currently lying in a Brisbane hospital.
He is lying there while only a few kilometres away, lawyers in the Supreme Court are arguing about an operation that could save his life.
On one side is the hospital, who are desperate to give the boy a liver transplant that could save his life. On the other side are his parents who argue that such an operation (and the blood transfusion that would be involved) is against their religion.
“J” suffers from portal hypertension and a genetic condition which can cause multiple organ failure. He has a severe liver disease and doctors have said he will die without a transplant, News Corp has reported.
His doctors argue that this operation is the only way to help him. It could cure his liver disease, end his high blood pressure and give him some semblance of a normal life.
But his parents say no.
The boy’s father initially signed a transplant consent form, but first crossed out the words ‘blood transfusion’.
In another affidavit filed in court Queensland Liver Transplant Service director Dr Jonathan Fawcett said that 95 percent of transplants required necessary blood transfusions.
He said avoiding a transfusion would require doctors to change the way they would carry out the operation and could compromise J’s chances of recovery and result in “a poor outcome”.
The hospital’s request is listed for a directions hearing next month – but all the while, “J” continues to suffer.
Sadly, “J”‘s story is tragically familiar.
Last year,five-year-old Ashya King was admitted to Southhampton hospital in Britain to be treated for brain cancer. He was sick – but the treatment was showing signs of progress. That is, until his parents decided to take Ashya from the hospital and flee their little town of Portsmouth for the south of France.
All because Ashya’s parents are loyal Jehovah’s Witness. And while their religion does allow for some medical practices, they strictly avoid blood transfusions – blood transfusions their son Ashya needed to survive.
A manhunt ensued for the pair.
“It is vital that we find Ashya today. His health will deteriorate rapidly,” assistant chief constable Chris Shead said in a media conference after the boy went missing.
“Ashya is in a wheelchair and is fed through a tube. The feeding system is battery operated and that battery will run out today, “assistant chief constable Shead said.
“He must continue to be fed through the tube by someone with the relevant medical training. “If he doesn’t receive urgent medical care or the wrong treatment is given, his condition will become life threatening.”
Ashya’s parents were eventually located, along with his six other siblings, and were charged with child neglect.
Ashya’s father spoke to the media earlier this year to share the news that their son “had no more visible tumours.” They equate his cure to proton therapy he received in Prague, which uses a form of radiation that targets cancer cells while leaving healthy tissue virtually untouched.
This video was posted to Youtube by Ashya’s brother Naveed.
This case has sparked much larger media attention because of its conflicting beliefs. Where do we draw the line between respecting religious beliefs and treating an ill child?
Should there even be a choice in the matter?
What would you do if your religion conflicted with modern medicine?