The case concerned an application by an NHS Trust which would permit them to not provide blood transfusions or treatment involving blood products to a 17 years and 4 month old patient, DL.
DL was required to undergo surgery for cancer and had a long history of medical intervention. Three years ago he had been baptised as a Jehovah’s Witness, and in adherence to his faith did not wish to receive blood transfusions or treatment involving blood products. Prior to his baptism but whilst expressing interest in his faith, he had received a transfusion which had led him to suffer PTSD. The Trust sought a declaration that not providing transfusions should they become necessary in his latest surgery was not unlawful. DL, the Trust, and his parents (who were also Jehovah’s Witnesses) had a good relationship and all agreed the surgery should take place – the only issue was treatment in the event of rare but possible complications. The surgery had once been postponed due to the strength of DL’s views, but could not wait until he was 18. The clinicians agreed regarding the detrminetal impact on DL if his views were not adhered to, and so sought an order from the court.
The judge approved the plan not to provide blood product treatment. The relevant factors are outlined in paragraphs 22 and 23. The case demonstrates the importance of a minor’s wishes and feelings when making such decisions, but also of weighing these against the consequences of not adhering to them. What was also key in this case was the understanding of DL and his parents regarding the potential risks and consequences.
Read the full summary on Family Law Week.