Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Just as I said I would...

Have Times (yesterday's), have tea (today's), have Aero (won't last 'til tomorrow) and as promised I will now endeavour to find something less random about which I can speak of here.

I only got as far as the first few pages yesterday but what struck me was the brave 13 year old girl, Hannah, who has had to defend, and fight to protect, her decision to reject a heart transplant for the heart problems she has as a result of Leukaemia treatment she's undergone from the age of 5.

She has been made aware that the drugs she would need so her body would not reject the new heart could bring about a recurrence of the Leukaemia; so an already risky operation could prove even more uncertain in this case.
But the situation took an even more appalling turn when child protection officers got involved, as the Times article says:
"In an interview with Sky News she described how she had made her case to a child protection officer after Herefordshire Primary Care Trust tried to have her removed from her parents’ care on the ground that they were “preventing treatment”."
Is it not horrific enough to watch your daughter go through years of treatment for a life-threatening illness, to then find that this treatment has so damaged her heart that a heart transplant is the only course of treatment for that condition, but that operation could result in a return of the Leukaemia; and THEN to have officials threaten to take your daughter into care because their opinion on the way forward differs to that of your daughter? I find it hard to imagine how a care order under those circumstances would be of any benefit to a girl who would then be forced into having a heart transplant. Perhaps it wouldn't have gone that far?

Now, I'm not so naive to believe that every family with children who are being treated for serious illnesses are perfect specimens of togetherness, or that child protection issues don't occur in families with sick children. I know that they do, having had a friend who worked as chaplain in a children's hospital, but there's no indication of those kind of issues being present here, just a difference of opinion between officials and parents. And that's what makes me angry. Not only is our society so pointed towards medical intervention at all costs that the suggestion of choosing to reject that intervention at some stage is seen as foolishness; but our society is also so driven by 'child protection' that it allows so-called experts and strangers to take huge decisions away from parents. This I find an alarming development, and a development that still doesn't seem to be able to protect the most vulnerable children. There is surely a difference between families who need the help and intervention of social services (and I know some wonderful social workers) to protect children obviously at risk and families for whom suffering and circumstances require such difficult decisions to be made.

Perhaps I am oversimplifying what perhaps boils down to where those social services draw the line of appropriate intervention? I'm sure they see families that can't be bothered to get treatment for their children, or families whose religious sensibilities seem completely innappropriate (rejection of blood transfusions for example). Perhaps I'm just outraged because my 'line of intervention' accepts that sometimes we need to be able to live the life we've got left as best we can and with our loved ones - even if we're only 13 years old.

Whatever my opinion, or anyone else's for that matter, my thoughts and my prayers are with Hannah and her family.

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