A court in New Zealand has today remanded a sick baby whose parents blocked life-saving heart surgery because potential blood donors may be vaccinated against Covid-19.
The Auckland High Court ordered the four-month-old boy, identified as ‘Baby W’ in court documents, to be placed under partial custody, allowing urgent surgery to correct a heart condition known as pulmonary valve stenosis to proceed.
The baby’s parents had blocked the procedure because the blood transfusion could have come from a donor who had been stung with an mRNA vaccine.
The pair used discredited arguments and fringe anti-vax theories to try to show that the jabs were unsafe.
The baby’s parents had blocked the procedure because the blood transfusion could have come from a donor who had been stung with an mRNA vaccine. Pictured: The mother and father of the four-month-old baby leave the High Court in Auckland on Tuesday, awaiting the court’s decision on Wednesday
But Supreme Court Justice Ian Gault said he accepted affidavits from health experts who said millions of blood transfusions had been performed around the world since the introduction of coronavirus vaccines and that the vaccines had caused no known adverse effects.
“The overriding question is whether the proposed treatment is in (the baby’s) best interest,” the court said in a statement.
The child is now under medical ‘guardianship of the court’ until ‘completion of his surgery’ and recovery, at the latest by the end of January.
The parents will remain guardians “for all other purposes” and will “at all times be kept informed of the nature and progress of Baby W’s condition and treatment,” the ruling said.
The case has gripped New Zealand and underscores the power of vaccine misinformation.
The parents’ legal battle has been embraced by anti-vaccine groups, who gathered outside the courtroom this week as evidence was presented.
The judge said the baby’s parents were loving and wanted the best for their son and accepted that he needed the surgery. The judge said the relationship between the parents and clinicians had suffered and they should try to improve it before and after surgery and have respect for each other.
Court rules prevent the name of the baby and the parents from being mentioned. Court documents identified the mother as a midwife.
Anti-vaccination protesters supporting mother and father of a four-month-old baby in urgent need of heart surgery demonstrate outside the High Court in Auckland on Tuesday
Health New Zealand spokesman Mike Shepherd said it was ‘a difficult situation for everyone involved’.
“The decision to submit such a request to the court is always made with the best interests of the child in mind.”
The baby is being treated at Starship Children’s Hospital in Auckland.
Following the verdict, vocal anti-vaccine campaigner Liz Gunn told a small crowd of supporters to pressure Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to somehow reverse the decision.
“Jacinda, this is at your feet,” she said, almost in tears. “Beg them to show some humanity in this country, of which we were once so proud and of which I am now so ashamed.”
Health authorities had rejected the parents’ request for unvaccinated blood, arguing it was impractical and unnecessary.
The family claims to have dozens of unvaccinated donors lined up.
The New Zealand Blood Service does not differentiate between donations from vaccinated or non-vaccinated people against Covid, as there is no added risk in using vaccinated blood.
It says there is no evidence that using blood from a vaccinated person poses any risk to recipients and that any traces of the Covid-19 vaccine have degraded and would not be transferred to patients.
“All donated blood is also filtered during processing, so any traces that may still be present do not pose a risk to recipients,” it said.
“This is a very unusual case where the parents want better treatment for their child than the state provides,” Sue Grey, the parents’ attorney, said last month.
“It has gone down this path because we have a government and a blood bank… (that) are not willing to make these services available.
“Not only are they not offering those services, they’re saying, ‘We know best what’s best for your baby and we want you to do it our way.'”
Cardiac stenosis is when the heart valves don’t open properly, meaning pressure and blood can build up, reducing blood flow and putting stress on the heart.
According to Healthdirect, one in 4,000 people is born with an aortic valve that is shaped differently and can harden or scar as they age, increasing their chances of developing cardiac stenosis.