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Girl Refuses Heart Transplant — Should Doctors Step In?

Hannah, a 13-year-old British girl suffering from leukemia and a heart condition, has declined a heart transplant. Her refusal could ultimately lead to her death. After the hospital originally threatened to take legal action to force her to obtain the surgery, medical professionals had a change of heart. The doctors interviewed Hannah and realized that she had made a thought-out decision to forgo the risky surgery. Speaking about her decision, Hannah said:

I've been in the hospital too much — I've had too much trauma. I don't want this, and it's my choice not to have it. . . . I just decided there were too many risks, and even if I took it there might be a bad outcome. There is a chance that I may be OK, and there's a chance that I may not be as well as I could be, but I'm willing to take that chance.

Hannah has already undergone almost 12 surgeries, and the current operation could require her to take medications for the rest of her life that have serious side effects. To find out when UK doctors would turn to the courts,


When doctors, parents, and the patient cannot agree whether or not to go forward with a life-prolonging treatment, the courts usually decide. But since they all seem to honor Hannah's wishes, that won't be necessary. Do you think a 13-year old should be able to refuse a surgery, or should the law force her to undergo the transplant if it will save her life?


megaman7 megaman7 8 years
UnDave35 "My child, my responsibility, my decision." UM NO your child's body your child's problem (your child who will actually experience the treatment as well) your child's decision. you have no say in the matter, end of story. your child could have a cut or be in need of major surgery. in ether case it makes no difference it is his body it is his problem he is the one who has to experience it not you therefore it is down to him and him alone! personally i think it is a disgrace that the courts have taken it upon themselves to step in in cases like this. how would you like it if someone (say your parents) decided that they had a right to decide for you just because you are their son and they case about you? furthermore if you needed medical treatment and you knew someone else would stick their nose in or even go as far as to say "it is entirely my decision" would it be more likely to encourage you to seek treatment or to keep the matter secret.
StolzeMama StolzeMama 8 years
wikipedia for the 1% rape/incest and for the others
UnDave35 UnDave35 8 years
I don't see how you are getting that. If the parents want an abortion, it is their choice. Personally, I am against that. If the parents want to keep their child from having a lifesaving treatment performed on their child, that is their choice. Personally, I am against that as well. Those are very interesting stats Hainan. It goes a long way to show that abortion is being used mainly as birth control. Because I'm sure others will ask, can you provide the source?
StolzeMama StolzeMama 8 years
snow-91% of abortions are birth control abortions. 1% rape/incest, 1% baby was diagnosed with something , 7% mothers health.
snowbunny11 snowbunny11 8 years
Pro-choice people generally see a significant difference between a fetus, 0-3 months and a 13 year old child. I find it interesting that your theory would not allow the fetus to be aborted, but would allow the 13 year old child to die without the blood transfusion.
UnDave35 UnDave35 8 years
Thanks for reminding me, but I've not ever said that pro-choice = pro-abortion as birth control. I was speaking more for me personally when I said "It's my child, my responsibility, my choice." As to your question about what do you do if life saving measures are against their religious beliefs, my opinion is very similar to the pro-choice group, which is it's their child, their responsibility, and therefore their decision. If it were up to me, I'd do whatever it takes to save the kid, and wrestle with the legal and moral implications with them later. Unfortunately, it isn't up to me to make a decision for them.
snowbunny11 snowbunny11 8 years
And the abortion thing, I just thought it would be an odd stance if someone were pro-life, but also okay with allowing a parent to refuse their child life-saving measures based on their religious beliefs, just because as parents, it should be their decision.
snowbunny11 snowbunny11 8 years
Michelin had brought up the question for the sake of discussion, what happens when the child and parent don't agree? Well, what if as a parent you decided that allowing your child to get a life-saving blood transfusion is against your religious beliefs, so your child will die instead? You said something along the lines: "I'm a parent so I get to decide what is right for my child." I had assumed you meant that as a general rule, parents should get to decide what to do for their children, but perhaps I was wrong, and you were only referring to yourself? I understand that you are not against life-saving measures, but I had assumed that the rule you thought should apply to you should apply to everyone. And for the final time: Pro-choice people are not for abortion as birth control and it is OFFENSIVE AND IRRELEVANT every time you bring it up.
UnDave35 UnDave35 8 years
Maybe I'm just confused then snow, because I don't get what you're saying. I think that we should always be on the side of life, wether it be a fetus or a 13yr old. That's why I'm against abortion as birth control, and for providing lifesaving measures for this 13yr old.
snowbunny11 snowbunny11 8 years
I didn't say the child couldn't abstain! I said what if the PARENTS denied the child medical attention based on their religious beliefs? Apparently some of us would give more rights to an unborn fetus than a 13 year old United States citizen... (this being hypothetical and all).
StolzeMama StolzeMama 8 years
I however love medical intervention... so there is no hypocrisy anyway 8)
StolzeMama StolzeMama 8 years
snow, I see it as this, even with all the science in medicine, it still fails an alarming percentage of the time. If these people believe in their hearts that abstaining from a science that has killed many animals,questionably killing the earth, and uses what they determine to be babies(stem cells) in the name of science, why shouldn't they have that right. And if that child wants to abstain from medical treatment as well, why couldn't she? I think it would be hypocritical of you to say that they cannot make that decision and then be ok with abortion. It's THEIR body and if the girl is 13 and can get an abortion, why cant she refuse her own medical treatment. Where I think it is not hypocritical on our end is this.... that would be a person deciding for themselves (and a parent does have decision rights for their child as well) that they are not harming themselves, where imo abortion is murdering and unwilling child...
UnDave35 UnDave35 8 years
"Really? So hypothetically if your religon ( like Christian Scientist/Jehovah Witness etc ) denotes that your child couldn't have a life saving procedure you would not allow the doctors to perform a procedure and allow your child to die? If so you couldn't possible be pro life...right?" If that was my religion, then as a parent it is my right to decide that for my child. Fortunately for me and my children, we don't subscribe to such nonsense. Snow - as long as the child is my responsibility, it is my decision that matters, and not my child's. Again, it's fortunate that I don't subscribe to "The child can't have a transfusion" nonsense. I'm all about saving the life, not letting the child die needlessly, unless they are a liberal, then I don't care. ;)
snowbunny11 snowbunny11 8 years
bastyle- I was going to ask the same thing! This is a no-brainer since both the parents and girl agree. But what if the parents were denying their child medical care based on their religious beliefs? I know UnDave is pro-life, but it isn't consistent to argue that a parent should be able to demand their 13 (or 17 for that matter) year old daughter to die because it is against their religious beliefs to get a blood transfusion, but that a woman wouldn't have the right to end her pregnancy.
StolzeMama StolzeMama 8 years
im confused a little bastyle on you last comment ... and even if she was in the US and doing so for religious reason, you say she wouldn't be questioned but that is untrue. they have forced minors to have procedures in the US before.
bastylefilegirl bastylefilegirl 8 years
" My child, my responsibility, my decision." "I'm with UnDave. Children usually incapable of making adult decisions for themselves." Really? So hypothetically if your religon ( like Christian Scientist/Jehovah Witness etc ) denotes that your child couldn't have a life saving procedure you would not allow the doctors to perform a procedure and allow your child to die? If so you couldn't possible be pro life...right?
bastylefilegirl bastylefilegirl 8 years
She has all her mental faculties, and if her parents are on board with this I see nothing wrong with it. It would be wrong of the doctors to intervene " first do no harm" and it seems as if the risk of this procedure seeing that Hannah's immune system is already compromised by cancer would do harm. It's funny if Hannah was to refuse for religious reasons (at least in this country) she wouldn't be questioned, but the fact that she's not doing it based on her faith but a though out logical, rationale way and she is being question is just stupid!
Great-Sommelier Great-Sommelier 8 years
This really reminds me of "My Sister's Keeper," by Jodi Piccoult
bleached bleached 8 years
I think at 13, she has more experience with this than most teenagers her age. She has had surgery after surgery. Based on the article, she seems to understand and appreciate the risks. Again based on the article, she seems to be mature enough to make her own decision. The doctors should respect her wishes.
chancleta chancleta 8 years
I'm with UnDave. Children usually incapable of making adult decisions for themselves. That is why the courts have agreed children are in the care of their parents until they reach legal age. We as parents are their entrusted caregivers challenged with making decisions on their behalf. Therefore, if the parents disagreed with the child it should still be up to the parent. Unless the child is 16-17 years of age (near the age of 18) and willing to petition the court that she is old enough to make her own decisions. That being said I think it is never up to the doctors do go against the wishes of either the patient or parents.
StolzeMama StolzeMama 8 years
wow I so wanna make a correlation between this and the abortion argument being a child can decide what to do with HER body at 10,11,12. If you agree with that sentiment then you cannot argue this case. I however think it's the parents decision in this case... but since they are on board with her decision, there doesn't seem any reason to argue...
chatoyante chatoyante 8 years
I think it's good they're honoring her decision. Even if you're young, you should still be able to decide what kind and quality (and length) of life you want to lead.
cotedazur cotedazur 8 years
What a hard decision! It sounds as though this girl really has thought about her choice, but at the same time, 13 is really young. I have a hard time believing that a 13 year old can really grasp the concept of life and death, and as such I don't think someone that young can make an educated decision. However, I'm tempted to agree with Starangel, who said that children who live with cancer who have spent their childhoods in hospitals are forced to mature faster, or at the least would have a more personal view of what death is.
em1282 em1282 8 years
Any opinion on quality of life? What kinds of side effects will this poor girl have to endure from all of the drugs? How much longer will she be guaranteed to live? It's a sticky situation to put it lightly but it does sound like her parents and the patient herself have truly thought things out. Also, I'm not a parent so obviously I don't know what it's like to have a child, but after working in a hospital and seeing parents and their terminally ill children, it's beyond heartbreaking. These kids just want to be normal (can you imagine a 10 year old crying all over you because he just wants to go out and play?) and it's hard to say what you would do if you were faced with certain circumstances with your children.
UnDave35 UnDave35 8 years
My child, my responsibility, my decision.
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