Saturday, 5 June 2010

I am fairly certain that the term "abandon blood"

was intended to refer to abandoning war. It is not a bad idea. Unfortunately other people see the term as meaning something different. In the case of one religious sect it has been taken to mean that you refuse blood transfusions - and that you also refuse to allow your children to have them.
Courts around the world are gradually coming around to over ruling parents who make a decision which would deny their children life on these and other grounds.
When we moved to this house our neighbours were an elderly couple. One of their three daughters had taken up with this religious sect. Her husband became ill, needed a transfusion but refused one and died. He was an adult and it was said he made the decision. I never met him and would not have asked.
Some time later the grandson also became ill. He was fourteen at the time. He needed transfusions in order to survive the only treatment which would have allowed him to live. The prospects of a full recovery were put as high as 90%. His mother refused treatment and, two years later, the boy died in agony. She claimed that was the proper outcome. It broke the family apart.
This morning's paper has the story of a ten year old who needs a transfusion. His parents opposed it and have been over ruled by the courts. The child himself is said to oppose it on the grounds that taking someone else's blood is taking someone else's life and that he will no longer be himself. Somewhere along the line the message that someone is giving him the greatest gift of all has been twisted.
If the child survives the treatment for a fairly rare osteo-sarcoma and grows to adulthood I wonder what he will then believe. If faced with the same decision would he give or withold?
My mother always wanted to deny us all any medical treatment. It was part of her religious upbringing. My father, brought up in the more robust and practical Presbyterian tradition, managed to over rule her in such matters as immunisation. It was, however, always a source of tension between them. None of us ever needed a life-saving transfusion but I believe she would have been over ruled had it been necessary.
I wonder though at parents, particularly mothers, who can deny their children life-saving medical treatment. Why is it that even the most intelligent of humans can allow emotion to overtake reason - and what sort of emotion allows people to choose death over life?

4 comments:

Donna Hosie said...

I agree that the law must interfere in these matters. A child of that young age does not have the maturity to make such a decision. He has been brainwashed.

One day he may realise how fortunate he was that the law was there to help him in his hour of need.

catdownunder said...

He is said to have a 70% chance of survival - but every day counts. It is a strange sort of belief system that will allow someone to die rather than at least try to benefit from modern medicine.

Frances said...

Was your mother Christian Scientist, Cat?

catdownunder said...

Yes...it caused no end of problems.