Parents Refuse Vaccinated Donor Blood for Baby's Surgery

New Zealand health service is going to court over the guardianship of a four-month-old baby whose parents refused open heart surgery in which blood of a donor vaccinated against COVID-19 would be used, the NZ Herald reports.

Health New Zealand/Te Whatu Ora is seeking that the guardianship of the baby is shifted from his parents to the courts, according to the report.

In an online interview, the parents said their baby has severe pulmonary valve stenosis and requires surgery "almost immediately." They also said they do not want the blood to be "tainted by vaccination," but they agree with "anything else" doctors want to do.

Te Whatu Ora Auckland interim director Dr. Mike Shepherd told NZ Herald that making decisions about children's care may be "worrying" for parents. Still, the decision to make an application to the court is "made with the best interests of the child."

The baby's parents claimed more than 20 unvaccinated people were willing to donate blood, but this had not been approved by the New Zealand Blood Service (NZBS).

According to the NZBS website, there is no evidence that previous vaccination affects the quality of blood for transfusion. It says that any COVID-19 vaccine in the blood is broken down soon after the injection.

"All donated blood also gets filtered during processing, so any trace amounts that may still be present poses no risk to recipients," the website says.

"It's definitely one of those really distressing cases for everyone involved because both the healthcare team and the parents are trying to act in the best interests of the child, but they have this really significant disagreement about what that looks like in this case," University of Otago bioethics lecturer and research scholar Josephine Johnstone told RNZ.

COVID-19 vaccines have been proven safe and effective. In the US, they are approved for children as young as six months old. However, a survey revealed that nearly half (43%) of parents of children aged six months to 5 years said they would "definitely not" vaccinate their children.

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