Detroit News/August 13, 1991
By Gene Stealth

Police are investigating the death of a 14-year-old Chesterfield Township boy, who dies less than two hours after hospital officials asked a court to order a blood transfusion, in opposition to the boy's religion.

Kevin Rattenbury was injured Aug. 6 when his moped was struck by a car at Forbes and Jefferson. He died about 7 a.m. Sunday in Mt. Clemens General Hospital as a court hearing was being conducted to determine if a judge should order a transfusion for Kevin.

Police investigation won't know for 20 days what caused the death.

Cpl. David Marker of the Chesterfield Police said officials from Mt. Clemens General Hospital asked the court to order the blood transfusion after Kevin and his parents, George and Betty Rattenbury, objected based on their beliefs as Jehovah's Witnesses.

Members of the faith object to blood transfusions based on biblical passages from the Acts, Leviticus and Genesis, which exhort followers to abstain from blood.

Gerald Warner, assistant Macomb County prosecutor, said he could not discuss the case because he has not seen police reports, but according to state law, parents cannot be criminally charged if they are practicing religious beliefs.

"There is a provision in the law which says that a parent, legitimately practicing his religious beliefs, who does not provide medical treatment for a child for that matter (religion) alone, shall not be considered a negligent parent to this child," Warner said.

Officials from Mt. Clemens General rousted Macomb Probate Court Judge James Nowicki out of bed at 1 a.m. Sunday because they said Rattenbury would die if he didn't have the transfusion, the judge said.

"According to testimony, the boy was able to nod that he didn't want the transfusion," Nowicki said. "The parents and two representatives from the local church were very strong in relaying that the boy did not want the transfusion."

Following the hearing, Judge Nowicki said he ordered the transfusion because "to withhold the treatment would be medical neglect."

Kevin Rattenbury had just graduated from Anchor Bay Junior High School, where he excelled as an equestrian. He played saxophone in the school band and was active in the Jehovah's Witnesses ministry.

Services will be at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday at the Will and Schwarzkoff Funeral Home in Mt. Clemens.

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