An Ohio hospital insists a 10-year-old Amish girl with leukemia will die if her parents continue to withhold chemotherapy. The mother says she decided to stop chemo after seeking wisdom from God, but the hospital is seeking limited guardianship of the girl to save her life.
The parents of the girl with non-Hodgkin lymphoma at Akron Children's Hospital say they are "horrified and terrified" by the side-effects of the therapy, according to the Associated Press. The parents want to rely on natural medicines alone.
However, the hospital's chief medical officer Robert McGregor believes the medical facility is morally and legally obligated to ensure the girl's safety. "We really have to advocate for what we believe is in the best interest of the child," he was quoted as saying.
The girl was admitted to the hospital in April, and was administered chemotherapy in May. But after a month, the parents opted to discontinue the therapy.
Maria Schimer, a nurse and an attorney at the hospital, sought limited guardianship of the young girl, but Medina County Probate and Juvenile Judge John Lohn denied the application, according to The Medina Gazette.
The hospital says it will appeal the decision.
"The court cannot deprive these parents of their right to make medical decisions for their daughter because there is not a scintilla of evidence showing the parents are unfit," Lohn wrote. "There was no basis in law and no basis in fact to file this action."
The judge also mentioned that the girl's parents, Andy and Anna Hershberger, were "caring, attentive, protective and concerned." "Sarah begged her parents to stop the treatments," Lohn wrote. "Anna said she and Andy could not stand to watch what was happening to their daughter." The judge also said the girl's mother "prayed for wisdom to discern God's plan" for the daughter.
The girl told the court she was against chemotherapy as it makes her feel ill, and fears it can damage her internal organs and make her infertile.
The parents' plan is "almost certain" to lead to the girl's death, Schimer wrote. "Every day that goes by without treatment," the girl's chance of surviving her cancer is diminished, she added.
The hospital says her chance at survival is 85 percent if she agrees for chemotherapy. "While the short-term side effects like nausea, lack of energy and loss of hair, and the potential long-term side effects like organ damage and infertility, cannot be minimized, the question of Sarah's treatment is life and death," Schimer wrote.
Amish people are from certain traditionalist Christian church fellowships that are known for simple living, plain dress, and reluctance to adopt many conveniences of modern technology.