Religious Beliefs Can’t Stop Son’s Urgent Treatment, Judge Rules

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (CN) – A Florida judge ruled that doctors can give an emergency blood transfusion to a deathly ill boy despite his father’s objection to the treatment on religious grounds.

Following an emergency hearing Wednesday, Broward County Circuit Court Judge Martin Bidwill authorized doctors at Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital to administer the urgent blood transfusion to the 8-year-old boy.

The condition of the child had been deteriorating following a pelvic surgery at the Hollywood, Florida, hospital early this week, court records show.

Citing strong religious beliefs, the father refused to let the medical staff at the hospital administer the recommended blood transfusion, according to Judge Bidwill’s three-page order issued Wednesday night.

The boy’s doctor, an orthopedic surgeon, said in an affidavit that his hemoglobin levels were dropping, and he had become lethargic with an irregular heart beat.

If the necessary blood products were not administered, the doctor said, the child could suffer a stroke, heart attack or sudden death.

In response to the Broward County State Attorney’s petition to override the father’s wishes, Judge Bidwill wrote on Wednesday: “Based on the testimony presented, the interest of the State in protecting the life of [the child] is paramount to the religious convictions of the parents.”

“If future transfusions are necessary, a new petition will need to be filed,” the judge wrote.

The court records indicate that the parents, Todd and Kelli Chamberlin, live in Palm Beach County, about an hour’s drive north of the hospital.

Their attorney, Patrick Cousins, did not respond Friday to a request for comment.

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