Canada

Calgary teen must receive blood transfusions: court

A Calgary teenager is ordered to receive blood transfusions despite religious objections

A Calgary teenager has been ordered to receive life-saving blood transfusions despite her religious objections.

The 16-year-old was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia and requires blood transfusions. But as a Jehovah's Witness, she says she cannot accept the blood.

Her parents are split on the issue her mother supports her decision, but her father wants her to have the transfusions.

Last week, the Alberta government obtained a court order to make the girl a ward of the province so doctors could give transfusions.

On Wednesday, the girl's lawyer David Gnam asked the court to stop the transfusions while the case is under appeal. But the judge denied the application, saying the transfusions won't hurt the patient, and that her right to life overrides her religious rights.

But Gnam insists his client's religious beliefs are being violated.

"This ruling means she'll continue to receive blood transfusions imposed on her against her will by means of restraint and sedation," said Gnam.

The provincial government says it has to intervene in the case because doctors believe the teenager would die within days unless she receives blood.

Iris Evans, the minister of children's services, says her heart is torn for the parents of the teenager.

"They do want, I know, to parent well. It's simply a matter where the state does not believe that the best interests of the child are served while they are not getting treatment," said Evans.

The girl has appealed the order to place her in the province's care. It will be heard April 25-26.

Some Jehovah's Witnesses do not allow the passage of any animal blood, including human, directly into their bodies. The belief comes from a Biblical passage instructing people not to eat the blood of animals.

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