A baby boy born with severe epilepsy will undergo a drastic brain operation after a court heard his parents would not consent to the operation and had relied on cannabis oil, holy water and prayers by a monk to cure his seizures.
The baby was born with a brain abnormality causing frequent and serious convulsions and had undergone numerous alternative treatments and traditional remedies at the parents’ request.
However, doctors argued this had been ‘ineffective’, resulting in numerous admissions to a paediatric intensive care unit.
A baby boy born with severe epilepsy will undergo a drastic brain operation after a court heard his parents had relied on holy water and prayers by a monk to cure his seizures (stock image)
Remedies used by the parents from their home country included ceremonies involving smoke that had been administered to the child, a social worker told the court.
Conventional medical treatments such as anticonvulsive drugs were also used on the child, some of which had serious side-effects and some which were effective in sedation.
However, due to the ineffective treatment to date and the increase and spread of seizure activity in the boy’s brain, doctors advised the court that a hemispherectomy was needed.
The operation, which would involve disconnecting the two sides of the brain to preserve the side that remained intact, would give the child the best chance of a future life, doctors argued.
The aim would be to prevent or reduce the regularity and severity of the child’s seizures.
Due to the ineffective treatment to date and the increase and spread of seizure activity in the boy’s brain, doctors advised the court that a hemispherectomy was needed. Pictured: An example of an anatomical hemispherectomy (before, left, and after, right)
The boy was in Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital in Brisbane (pictured)
Although the parents would not consent to the operation, the Supreme Court judgement stated: ‘That is not because they do not love their baby – they clearly do – but because they retain hope that traditional remedies might provide what might be described as a miracle cure,’ the Brisbane Times reported.
The court recognised the sincerity of the parents’ religious and cultural beliefs but ultimately ruled that any further traditional remedies would require an ‘arduous’ ordeal back to their home country.
Justice Roslyn Atkinson said she had ‘thought long and hard’ about her decision.
‘He is their child, and it is they who will be bringing him up,’ she said.
‘But I am satisfied that the operation is in his best interests, and … that their love for their child and involvement in his physical, emotional and spiritual development will stay with him through the days and weeks, months and years to come.’
Justice Atkinson authorised the boy’s medical team to perform the procedure.
She also ruled any prior or subsequent care and intervention, such as a pre-operative MRI or blood transfusions, could be undertaken as part of medical procedures.
A hemispherectomy is usually only performed in extreme cases after medication or other surgeries have failed to correct the seizures.