Parents take 10-year-old with cancer off chemo; hospital takes them to court

AKRON, Ohio — Should a 10-year-old Amish girl be forced to get chemotherapy so she has better odds of surviving cancer? An Ohio hospital believes so — despite the family’s decision to rely on alternate therapy and prayer as healing.

Doctors say the Medina County girl has a deadly form of leukemia called T-cell lymphoblastic lymphoma; and without chemotherapy, she would die within a year.

With chemotherapy, doctors say statistically there is a five-year survival rate of 85 percent.

The family started chemo last spring. Doctors say some of the girl’s tumors disappeared after the initial round of treatment, but she was not in remission. However, the parents stopped the chemo because they felt it was killing their daughter, according to their attorney John Oberholtzer.

“They just decided, ‘No more. We can’t. We’re not going to allow our daughter to go through this,’” Oberholtzer said.

Doctors disagreed with the parents’ decision. A registered nurse along with Akron Children’s Hospital took the parents to court, asking to be appointed “Emergency Guardian” in order to legally oversee the child’s healthcare.

Medina County Judge John Lohn denied the initial request, saying there was “no evidence the parents are unfit.”

However, an appellate court reversed Lohn’s decision. The appellate court ruled parental suitability is irrelevant “if the minor’s interests will be promoted by the appointment of a guardian.”

The case is going back to the Medina County Probate Court to be heard again.

Despite what doctors believe, the parents say they want to stick with “holistic medicine” and prayer for their daughter’s treatment and that they believe only God decides someone’s fate.

Would you side with the girl’s parents, or the hospital?

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