February 7, 2023

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A New Zealand court takes custody of the baby after parents refused vaccine blood for heart surgery

Eureka News Now —

A critically ill six-month-old baby is placed under the temporary guardianship of New Zealand’s High Court after his parents refused to allow him life-saving heart surgery using blood from people vaccinated against Covid-19.

At the sentencing hearing on Wednesday, Judge Ian Gault ruled that the boy, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, will remain under the court’s guardianship until he recovers from the operation.

According to court documents, the court also appointed two doctors as its designees to oversee matters related to the surgery and blood administration.

The baby has a congenital heart defect and needs urgent open-heart surgery to survive – but the operation was delayed because his parents insist that only blood from donors who are not vaccinated against Covid-19 is used.

The case has drawn attention to the impact of vaccine misinformation two years on from global vaccination campaigns.

The baby’s parents believed that “spike proteins were present in the blood of people who were vaccinated and that these proteins caused unexpected transfusion-related deaths,” according to the ruling.

The parents had previously asked the New Zealand Blood Service to accept a donation from a person chosen by the family, but the agency refused, saying it made no distinction between vaccinated and unvaccinated donors.

The court heard that Dr. Kirsten Finucane, the chief pediatric cardiac surgeon at Starship Hospital in Auckland, had told parents it was “just impractical to have a direct donor”.

Finucane consulted with other experts and determined that a heart bypass without the use of blood or blood products was not an option for the baby’s surgery, the court heard.

With the parents and doctors unable to agree on the infant’s treatment and blood transfusion, the New Zealand Health Service filed a Care of Children Act application in November, asking the court to appoint a doctor to assume temporary guardianship of the baby only care.

In a statement, the parents’ attorney Sue Gray said they spent “many hours” considering their options following the court ruling and concluded there was “no time for an appeal.”

“The priority for the family is to enjoy peaceful time with their baby until surgery and support them during surgery,” she said.

After the court’s verdict, Dr. Mike Shepherd, interim director of the New Zealand Health Service in Auckland, said his decisions were “always made in the best interest of the child”.

“We acknowledge the court’s decision following our motion regarding the baby’s surgery and recognize that this is a difficult situation for all involved,” Shepherd said in a statement.

New Zealand has relatively high vaccination rates for Covid-19, with around 90% of people aged 12 and over having had two shots and over 70% of eligible adults having had their first booster shot, according to the Department of Health.