Blood infusion steps for Jehovah's Witness kids in works

Toyko, Japan - A joint panel of five medical academies has drafted proposals for providing blood to patients younger than age 15 even if their parents argue it's against their religion, particularly if they are Jehovah's Witnesses.

The proposals follow the death last month of a female Jehovah's Witness at Osaka Medical College who refused a blood transfusion after undergoing a Caesarean section.

Under the 1998 guideline regarding patients who are Jehovah's Witnesses, the Japan Society of Transfusion Medicine and Cell Therapy says doctors should infuse blood into patients who are younger than 12 years old regardless of their parents' objections, while respecting the wishes of patients who are over the age of 18.

During the latest debate, the panel concluded it will constitute abuse of parental authority if parents refuse blood infusions for offspring younger than 15 because such children do not have sufficient self-determining capability, according to Hitoshi Oto, a professor at Fukushima Medical University who heads the panel.