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Tuesday 6th December 2016
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'Stop treating my cancer'

13th March 2007

The parents of a very sick young girl have revealed they were threatened with legal action if they did not force her to continue with radiotherapy.

Consulting Room

Leah Beth Richards was fighting her third bout of a rare kidney cancer when she told her mother she had had enough and wanted the high-grade treatment to stop. Despite this meaning her life expectancy would be shortened, her mother agreed that her daughter had endured enough and told doctors that Leah Beth would not be returning for her last three doses of radiotherapy. The paediatric oncologist in charge of Leah Beth’s case replied, "If that's your attitude, we'll get Child Protection Services involved."

The family then became split over whether to force their child to continue with the gruelling treatment that left her doubly incontinent, unable to eat or drink, nauseous and exhausted. In the end her father took her to the hospital for her final bouts of radiotherapy; a decision which he says has cost him the trust of his daughter.

Leah Beth is now in her third term of remission; if the cancer returns she will only be given palliative care having had all the treatment available for her condition. The family from Wales are left questioning why doctors have more legal rights over a sick child than the parents or the child themselves. Medical guidelines state that parents, acting on behalf of a child under 16, have the right to withdraw consent for treatment at any time. However, if doctors feel the treatment is in the child's best interests they can involve Child Protection Services and instigate court proceedings. Under current law, children have no right to refuse medical treatment if it is considered to be in their best interests.

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Comments

Anonymous

Friday 16th March 2007 @ 16:05

Doctors don't always act in the best interests of their patients because they sometimes act out of a need to have power and control to use traditional treatments regardless of the outcome or effects. I was told I had 2 years to live if I did not receive traditional cut, burn, or poison. That was 10 years ago and I am still alive with quality of life without these three devistating treatments. Sometimes these traditional treatments create more problems than they solve. Using altenative treatments though does require more work (less suffering) than letting the doctors rule because it often requires a change of diet and lifestyle and discipline. The end choice should be with the parents but they must be well informed in both traditional and alternative treament before making this decision. Most doctors are not willing to consider alternative or complementary treatments. Having said that, I do not feel that it should be the child that decides but the informed parents. If the Doctors force treatment and the child dies perhaps they should be liable?


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