Manitoba teen in court over blood transfusions

CanWest News Service/September 4, 2006

A 15-year-old Jehovah's Witness with Crohn's disease will be back in court this week seeking to control her own medical treatment and refuse blood transfusions.

At the heart of the Manitoba Court of Appeal case is whether the girl should continue to be recognized as a "mature minor," or be under the wing of Child and Family Services and forced to have the treatment when her doctor says it's necessary.

As a Jehovah's Witness, the girl does not want transfusions because she interprets certain passages in the Bible as forbidding the ingestion of blood.

"This young woman has been managing her disease for a long time and respecting her religious conscience, and is confident she can continue to manage her disease without blood," said lawyer Shane Brady, who will represent the girl's parents at Thursday's appeal in Winnipeg.

The case began last April when the teen, then 14, went to hospital during a flare-up of her Crohn's, a chronic illness that can affect the entire gastrointestinal tract.

When she and her parents refused a transfusion, a Court of Queen's Bench justice granted Child and Family Services an order allowing doctors to give blood transfusions or blood products "as they deem medically necessary" without the consent of the teen or her parents.

Manitoba's Department of Child and Family Services refused to comment on the case.

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