A New Zealand court has seized custody of a dying baby after his antivaxx parents refused blood transfusions from Covid-vaccinated donors.
The ruling places the six-month-old boy, dubbed ‘Baby W’ in legal documents, under the custody of officials until he undergoes life-saving heart surgery and recovers.
His parents, who remain unnamed by court order, demanded that the donated blood needed after surgery come from someone who had not received an mRNA Covid shot.
Baby W was born with a heart defect that puts him at a much higher risk of heart failure and is getting “sicker with every heartbeat,” said Paul White, the attorney for the Department of Health.
The news from New Zealand came on the same day that UK health authorities approved a low-dose formulation of Pfizer’s vaccine for babies six months and older, a move expected to spark controversy.
The parents refused blood transfusions from donors who had received either the Pfizer or Moderna mRNA vaccine because they feared it would endanger their baby’s life.
The case has provoked anti-vaxxers in New Zealand who demonstrated in support of Baby W’s parents in Aukland.
Under Supreme Court Justice Ian Gault, Baby W will be under partial court custody, but only with jurisdiction over medical decisions. The parents retain the power to make all other non-medical decisions for their baby.
Medical specialists from Starship Children’s Hospital and the New Zealand Blood and Organ Service declined their request that the child receive blood donated by someone who had not been vaccinated against Covid with Moderna or Pfizer’s shot.
The parents cited fringe theories that mRNA vaccines are unsafe and alter a person’s DNA. They also said the vaccine carries a risk of causing a heart condition called myocarditis, but the vaccinated person’s donated blood would not affect the baby’s genetic makeup.
The antibodies that the immune system produces after vaccination circulate in the person’s bloodstream, but they are in such a low concentration that it is unlikely to affect the person receiving the donation.
The arguments put forward by the parents for refusing vaccinated blood have been discredited.
Despite several fringe theories to the contrary, there is no evidence that blood donations from Covid-vaccinated donors pose any risk to recipients, and blood transfusions from vaccinated donors are not associated with any risk of infection.
The New Zealand Blood and Organ Service generally does not accept direct blood donations except in certain circumstances. For example, a patient with a very rare blood group may need a direct donor for a life-saving transfusion.
The blood and organ service also makes no distinction between vaccinated and unvaccinated when receiving donations.
The parents expressed concern about any traces of the vaccines entering their baby’s body through the transfusions.
About a month has passed since Baby W had surgery that doctors had hoped would correct the underlying problem and prevent another surgery.
Surgeons had to insert a specific type of catheter into his lung valve in an attempt to open it. Now doctors say a second surgery is necessary because the first one didn’t fix the problem.
Baby W’s heart condition means that the valve between the lower right ventricle of the heart and the pulmonary arteries is too narrow and stiff. This reduces blood flow through the valve.
It puts him at greater risk of developing bacterial infections that affect the inner lining of the heart. In severe cases, the condition can cause fatal heart failure.
The battle over blood transfusions came after that surgery at the end of October, which did not solve the problem.
Parents agreed to a transfusion, but said all donated blood must come from an unvaccinated source in the future.
Baby W needs an additional surgery to survive. His right ventricle will continue to deteriorate without surgery. With this, Baby W has a long-term survival prognosis of more than 90 percent.
But the parents postponed the urgent operation for more than a month. On November 16, they doubled down on their demands to use only Covid vaccine free blood. Health authorities are asking parents to submit evidence showing that vaccinated blood posed a threat to their baby.
On November 21, the country’s blood bank rejected their request again after debunking the material submitted by the parents. The doctor who was to perform the surgery also confirmed there was no escaping it – Baby W would need blood transfusions.
Still, the parents wouldn’t budge. On November 23, the doctors urged the mother to set a date for the surgery, which Baby W needed to survive. The mother refused and two days later she did not answer calls from the doctors urging the parents to make a decision or their baby could die.
Baby W’s condition is a congenital heart defect and the exact cause is unclear. The pulmonary valve is made up of three thin pieces of tissue called cusps that open and close with every heartbeat and keep blood moving in the right direction.
In pulmonary valve stenosis, the cusps are stiff and thick, meaning the valve cannot open fully. As the narrowed valve is forced to keep up with blood flow, pressure builds up in the right ventricle, which then strains the heart.
The case stirred up the antivaxx community across New Zealand, which has been praised for its Covid mitigation measures that successfully fended off devastating spikes.