23 Jan 2008

Doctor says blood transfusion seemed to be safest option for sextuplets

The Canadian Press - January 22, 2008

VANCOUVER - A doctor who looked after a set of severely premature sextuplets in British Columbia last year says blood transfusions seemed to be the least dangerous solution to their medical ills.

But the parents, who are Jehovah's Witness, refused to allow the transfusions on religious grounds and the babies were seized by provincial child welfare authorities.

The parents, who can't be named to protect their children, now want the B.C. Supreme Court to rule the seizure of the babies was unconstitutional.

Neonatologist Dr. Alfonso Solimano testified Tuesday in B.C. Supreme Court that the children's oxygen supply was compromised and the blood-transfusion decision seemed the least dangerous option.

He said there were other ways to deal with the dropping oxygen levels in the babies' bodies, but the side effects were much more severe than a blood transfusion.

"It seemed the least potentially dangerous problem," he said. "These babies were not healthy."

Solimano said the oxygen levels in the babies blood was going down and their heart rates were dropping.

"Every way which the oxygen gets delivered to the tissues was being compromised," Solimano testified.

Four of the sextuplets survived and just recently celebrated their first birthday.

Dr. Robin Ohls, a neonatologist testifying on behalf of the parents, told the hearing Monday that test results on the children showed blood transfusions weren't necessary.

Lawyers for the B.C. government argued in earlier hearings that saving the lives of the two boys and two girls superseded the parents' rights.


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