The Northern Advocate

Parents opt not to appeal baby ruling

Lawyer says case has world watching


The parents of a New Zealand baby at the centre of a dispute that’s made global headlines won’t be appealing a judge’s decision to hand guardiansh­ip of the child to the High Court.

The 4-month-old — known only as Baby W — requires urgent open heart surgery, with both blood and blood products required for the operation and potentiall­y its aftermath.

Te Whatu Ora / Health New Zealand took the case to court because the parents refused to allow blood transfusio­ns from anyone who might have had the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine.

The NZ Blood Service doesn’t differenti­ate between blood from vaccinated and non-vaccinated people, saying there is “no evidence that previous vaccinatio­n affects the quality of blood for transfusio­n”.

A judge on Wednesday ruled in favour of Te Whatu Ora, allowing the surgery to go ahead with whatever product the Blood Service provides.

Doctors, having been made agents of the court for the surgery, said on Wednesday afternoon they would be ready to operate within 48 hours.

The family’s lawyer Sue Grey and high-profile supporter Liz Gunn said yesterday there was no time to appeal the court’s decision, but they had confidence the child would “get the best possible care with the best, safest blood” because “the Government cannot afford anything to go wrong for Baby W as the world is watching”.

“The priority for the family is to enjoy a peaceful time with their baby until the operation, and to support him through the operation,” the pair said in a post on the New Zealand Outdoors & Freedom Party Facebook page. Grey co-leads the party.

The baby will be in intensive care for up to a week and under Te Whatu Ora’s guardiansh­ip possibly until the end of January, allowing time for their recovery.

The doctors were told to keep the parents “informed at all reasonable times of the nature and progress of [the baby’s] condition and treatment”.

Te Whatu Ora has been approached for comment.

The ruling should not have come as a surprise, University of Otago bioethics lecturer Josephine Johnstone told Morning Report yesterday.

“This is consistent with previous cases around the refusal of blood products for children whose parents are Jehovah’s Witnesses . . . or refusal of medical care for cancer treatment for children whose parents have alternativ­e health and science views.”

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