- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 30, 2022

The New Zealand government is filing for guardianship of a baby after the 4-month-old’s parents said no to life-saving heart surgery unless doctors use blood from someone who was not vaccinated against COVID-19.

Te Whatu Ora, which is the country’s health service, cited the Care of Children Act in its court filing Monday, asking the Auckland high court to give the state guardianship of the baby so it can give consent to using donated blood, according to the NZ Herald. 

“The decision to make an application to the court is always made with the best interests of the child in mind and following extensive conversations with whanau [extended family],” said Dr. Mike Shepherd, the interim director for Te Whatu Ora Auckland, during a Wednesday court hearing.

The parents, who have not been identified in news reports, said in an online interview that their baby boy requires open-heart surgery to address his severe pulmonary valve stenosis — a condition that can prevent a heart from effectively pumping blood.

The parents were joined by anti-COVID vaccine advocate Liz Gunn when they reportedly met with a doctor and surgeon expressing their concerns about using vaccinated blood, according to the video interview the couple did with Ms. Gunn on Friday that was reported on by the Herald. 

The practitioners dismissed their concerns. And the New Zealand Blood Service (NZBS) did not approve of the more than 20 unvaccinated people the parents had recruited to serve as donors for the operation. 

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“There are other cases of medical guardianship where parents don’t want the treatment for their child,” said Sue Grey, the family’s lawyer and a staunch anti-COVID vaccine advocate, according to the radio network Newstalk ZB. “This is the case where parents want better treatment for their child than the state is offering.”

Ms. Grey said the nation’s federal government and the NZBS “are not prepared to make available services that they can offer and do offer in other situations.”

Nikki Turner, the medical director for Auckland University’s Immunisation Advisory Centre, told the radio station the family’s rationale doesn’t make sense scientifically.

“Almost all blood in New Zealand will have COVID antibodies in it, so unless you’re going to refuse all blood, I can’t imagine how you’ll get round this,” Ms. Turner said.

NZBS has said the COVID vaccine is “broken down” into a person’s blood soon after injection, so scant amounts transferred to blood donation recipients present no risk, according to the Herald.

For more information, visit The Washington Times COVID-19 resource page.

• Matt Delaney can be reached at mdelaney@washingtontimes.com.

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