Canadian court forces 11 year old to have chemotherapy

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    May 14, 2008 3:06 PM GMT
    Boy refuses chemotherapy

    An 11-year-old leukemia patient who doesn't want to continue chemotherapy will be forced to continue, a court rules.

    http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/health/2008/05/14/vennavallyrao.boy.refuses.chemo.ctv
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    May 14, 2008 6:08 PM GMT
    I have a billion mixed feelings on this one. Gosh. icon_confused.gif

    I know I would have been heartbroken if (in the middle of his chemo years ago) my little brother would've said, I don't want to do this anymore and then died. But at the same time I'd realize I have to respect his wishes for himself and his body, irregardless of how well-informed/smart he is about the situation and his life.

    Ugh.

    Ugh.

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    May 14, 2008 6:42 PM GMT
    That is a really tough call given the child's age and the debate over his reasoning capacity. When my younger brother went through his radiation and chemo he told my parents that if his lymphoma came back he would not go through another round of treatment. At 15 years old, as he was, it's still hard to judge if a person has the experience and capacity to truly understand the ramifications of such a decision and I'm not sure his decision would be informed enough to be respected. If my mother, at 56, had refused her second round of treatment I would have expressed my feelings on the matter, but defended her decision if the rest of the family had issues with it. A patient's perceived capacity to accept or refuse treatment is an emotionally charged moral, ethical and civil gray area. I do not envy anyone who has to make these decisions.
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    May 14, 2008 7:31 PM GMT
    There's no neat solution to this one. I think important facts in the case though are:

    1) The child's cancers are not, at present, life threatening. if they are not treated, they will certainly kill him eventually. This suggests to me that he has a reasonable chance of survival. The situation is completely different if he has no chance of survival.

    2) The child's parents seem to have rather specific views on how he ought to be treated with alternative therapy that HAVE NO POSSIBILITY of curing his sickness. It is impossible to believe that the child's views are not influenced by those of his parents.

    3) The child has been assessed by psychologists and does not understand the ramifications of his decision. Chemotherapy has horrible side effects. What person would want to submit to it?

    Alas that we live in times when the excellent works of the doctors and nurses in healthcare are ignored for conspiracy theories and quackery. Should the story not have been "Irresponsible parents convince child to give up on life because of their pseudoscientific beliefs"?

    What if the state was to allow the child to discontinue the treatment for now and try the alternative therapy? When this does not help, should he be treated again (with considerably less chance of surviving)? At what point do we draw the line?

    I have nothing but the greatest sympathy for the parents, who are undoubtedly in an awful situation. But their right to exercise their own belief does not remove the child's right to live, when he does not understand that right. The state must, with love sympathy and compassion, intervene.
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    May 14, 2008 9:04 PM GMT
    NNJfitandbi said[quote]A follower of Rousseau, forcing the slave to be free.

    Just remember, Reason leads to Danton.


    Hah! I do not agree with Rousseau's view on women! And I don't think what Danton did was reasonable. To be honest, I have more sympathy with Jacques-Louis David: he was good at brown-nosing and he could paint! icon_smile.gif

    I think comparing the child to a slave is very problematic not least of all because slaves may well be capable of understanding what is being done to them. The kindest thing for society to do a freed slave is another matter entirely. This child is not and has been shown to not be capable of understanding the decision that he has made. Other children, and this one perhaps, at later ages may well be. In the case of a slave, we as a society are returning something to the slave something that we have taken away; in the present case we are preventing him from throwing something away that he might if he survives wish he had retained. What if he survives and decides that he is glad that he lives? What should he think of his parents then?

    I think adults who refuse treatment on their own beliefs should be allowed to do so, though I think them foolish unless there is little possibility of their survival and pain and degradation in treatment (I have a living will myself for example). I also think it a dark thing indeed for people to encourage others to pass up their own life for superstition.

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    May 14, 2008 10:05 PM GMT
    Sad situation.

    I guess I'm leaning towards that common statement we all say about those we care for deeply. That point when we realize we'd do anything in our power to keep that loved one safe and healthy. We realize with this kind of love we really would give our own lives for them. So based on that, I'd support the treatments that he fears the most. I'd ache over his pain and wish daily it was me going through all the hell but I'd have to believe that through the pain comes potential triumph over this disease and that taking this awful process was my way of doing anything to avoid losing that precious loved one. I'm the adult in this situation. I can't let my childs fear prevent them from living. I have to be stronger than that. I have to convince him he has to fight and fight hard. The alternative of natural treatment would be off the table once the medical professionals gave a clear analysis of that choice. I'd also have to evaluate that my child wants the less painful approach even if it's rate of success is not the numbers he wants to hear. I'd come to the conclusion his choice is based on fear of pain and thats understandable but that mindset may potentially cost him his life. My choice has to be based on over all long term outcome. My goal is to sustain his life. It's my pledge to him. I'd do anything and in this case it would be going through pain. I'd hate it but we would do it. Some how we'd do it together kicking, screaming, crying, clawing, throwing up, we'd do it.

    Phew man it's stuff like this that make you realize how lucky you are not to be going through all that. My heart goes out to everyone in that situation.