Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Sextuplets

The sextuplets born in B.C. were a big news story again last week. Two of the babies have passed away and the government took temporary custody of three of them in order to administer blood transfusions. The parents are angry. They have requested an apology from the government. They have also launched a Charter challenge under freedom of religion (the parents are Jehovah's Witnesses)

The response from the public seems to be unanimously in favour of the government intervention. When Boo was in the NICU we had a situation where we were told that she had to undergo a particular medical procedure. When we were informed it also required our consent DW and I did our research and determined that it was not in Boo's best interest. We worked out an alternative form of treatment with her medical team. At one point a Fellow thought he knew better and decided to do what he wanted despite our explicit protests. (DW is convinced I was ready to slug the doctor before the nurse practitioner intervened.) With the benefit of hindsight disagreeing with the doctors and standing up for Boo was what was best for her. Parents are the best advocates for their child's best interests.

If the doctors of the sextuplets have worked with the parents to examine all possible options in the best interest of the children I fully support the governments decision. However, if the doctors were unwilling to consider all forms of treatment available, the parents have a right to be angry.

On a seperate point a growing number of countries have passed legislation or adopted policies that make babies born before 27 weeks or under 2500g an automatic DNR. In one of these countries Boo would not have received any medical treatment. The sextuplets would have been in the same boat. Canadians are lining up to condemn these parents, without a second thought to parents in other countries. What happens if the babies who received the blood transfusions don't make it? How much more grief would the parents face in light of an unwanted life saving treatment that didn't work.

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