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New Zealand government tries to seize guardianship of baby after parents demand unvaccinated blood for surgery


New Zealand’s government health service has applied to remove guardianship of a 4-month-old baby boy from his parents after they demanded that his life-saving surgery can proceed only with blood that does not contain the COVID-19 vaccine.

Health New Zealand, also known as Te Whatu Ora, made a court application Monday with the Auckland High Court to transfer guardianship under the Care of Children Act so the baby can receive the operation, according to court documents reported by the New Zealand Herald.

The baby’s parents recently explained their position during an interview with Liz Gunn, a broadcaster from New Zealand who has raised concerns about the safety of COVID-19 vaccines.

Explaining how their son has severe pulmonary valve stenosis and needs surgery “almost immediately,” the parents said they are “extremely concerned with the blood [the doctors] are going to use.”

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New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern speaks at a press conference in Wellington, New Zealand, Oct. 4, 2021.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern speaks at a press conference in Wellington, New Zealand, Oct. 4, 2021.
(Mark Mitchell/Pool Photo via AP)

“We don’t want blood that is tainted by vaccination,” the father said. “That’s the end of the deal; we are fine with anything else these doctors want to do.”

The parents maintained that more than 20 unvaccinated people were willing to donate the blood for their son’s operation, but that had not been approved by the government’s New Zealand Blood Service (NZBS), according to the New Zealand Herald.

Since they are trying to obtain medical care they believe is better than what the state is offering, attorney for the parents, Sue Grey, argued Wednesday in court that their case is unlike most guardianship cases in which parents refuse necessary medical care, according to the Guardian.

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Health New Zealand made a court application Monday, Nov. 28, 2022, with the Auckland High Court to transfer guardianship of a 4-month-old baby under the Care of Children Act.

Health New Zealand made a court application Monday, Nov. 28, 2022, with the Auckland High Court to transfer guardianship of a 4-month-old baby under the Care of Children Act.
(Driendl Group via Getty Images)

“Because they label my clients as conspiracy theorists, [their position] is that anything my clients say can be ignored,” Grey said.

Paul White, a lawyer for Te Whatu Ora, told the court that medical professionals have said that a child with such a serious heart condition would normally have been treated several weeks ago.

Dr. Mike Shepherd, who serves as interim director at Te Whatu Ora in Auckland, said in a statement that he understands how worrying it can be for parents who are dealing with a very sick child, according to the New Zealand Herald.

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A vial of the phase 3 Novavax coronavirus vaccine is seen ready for use in the trial at St. George's Hospital in London, Oct. 7, 2020.

A vial of the phase 3 Novavax coronavirus vaccine is seen ready for use in the trial at St. George’s Hospital in London, Oct. 7, 2020.
(AP Photo/Alastair Grant, File)

“The decision to make an application to the court is always made with the best interests of the child in mind and following extensive conversations with whānau,” Shepherd said, using a Māori word that means “extended family.”

“As this matter is before the courts, we will not be commenting further,” he added.

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Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, left, and Associate Health Minister Ayesha Verrall arrive ahead of their press conference at Parliament on March 23, 2022, in Wellington, New Zealand.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, left, and Associate Health Minister Ayesha Verrall arrive ahead of their press conference at Parliament on March 23, 2022, in Wellington, New Zealand.
(Mark Mitchell/Pool/Getty Images)

Donated blood is not divided based on COVID-19 vaccination status, according to the NZBS website, which also claimed there is no evidence that using blood donated by someone who received the COVID-19 vaccine poses any risk.

“There is no evidence that previous vaccination affects the quality of blood for transfusion,” NZBS said. “Any COVID-19 vaccine in the blood is broken down soon after the injection. All donated blood also gets filtered during processing, so any trace amounts that may still be present poses no risk to recipients.”

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NZBS requires that those who have received some versions of the COVID-19 vaccine refrain from donating blood for 28 days after getting vaccinated. Anyone who received the Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, AstraZeneca or Novavax vaccines is not subject to the 28-day stand-down period.

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