Lifesaving Surgery to Proceed Over Religious Objections

     HOUSTON (CN) – A Texas judge has ruled a hospital can perform life-saving heart surgery on a two-month-old against the objections of his parents, whose religion forbids the receipt of blood transfusions.
     State district judge Michael Gomez signed an order Wednesday allowing Texas Children’s Hospital to perform heart surgery on Gabriel Zepeda.
     The hospital filed its application for life-sustaining medical treatment Tuesday when Zepeda’s parents refused consent based on the possibility that “blood products” could be needed for the baby.
     “Gabriel’s parents are Jehovah’s Witnesses, and their religious beliefs prevent them from accepting blood products for themselves, or for Gabriel,” the hospital said in its application. “Without consent to use blood products… the hospital cannot proceed with Gabriel’s life-saving surgery.”
     During a hearing cardiologist Dr. Douglas Moodie told the court that Zepeda has holes in his cardiovascular system that are flooding his lungs with blood, the Houston Chronicle reported.
     A hospital spokeswoman said Zepeda was in stable condition Wednesday night but wouldn’t say whether he had undergone surgery, the Chronicle reported.
     This is third such application Texas Children’s Hospital has filed in Harris County in 2012, according to court records.
     In January the hospital filed the application for a 5-year-old girl it was treating for cancer when her blood counts began dropping, and her parents did not consent to her receiving blood transfusions.
     The parents’ religion is not mentioned in that document.
     But on April 9 Texas Children’s Hospital filed the application for a 2-month-old girl with life-threatening heart problems, and Jehovah’s Witness parents.
     Her doctor said blood products could be needed for “running tests in the cath lab” and the surgery couldn’t proceed until the tests were done. Her parents objected on religious grounds.
     In both cases the judge granted the hospital’s request.
     Jehovah’s Witness beliefs on blood transfusions come from a Bible interpretation.
     “The faith’s literature directs members to refuse transfusions even in a life-or-death situation,” the Chronicle reported.
     The parents’ names are not used in any of the hospital’s applications.

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