New Zealand’s High Court on Wednesday took custody of an infant whose parents insisted that he only receive blood from donors who had not been vaccinated against the coronavirus, a demand the court said prevented doctors from performing a lifesaving surgery.
The 6-month-old boy, referred to as “Baby W” in court filings, has been diagnosed with a congenital heart defect and needs surgery to survive, according to the court order.
“He remains in urgent need of an operation, and every day that the operation is delayed his heart is under strain,” the order said, citing one of his doctors.
Baby W’s parents, Cole Reeves and Samantha Savage, had insisted that he could only be operated on if the blood used in the surgery came from unvaccinated donors. Doctors said that using blood donated from outside the normal channels was “impractical” for the situation and that doing the surgery without donated blood was “not an available option.”
With time running out and the parents still objecting, Judge Ian Gault ruled that it was “in Baby W’s best interests” for the court to take custody of him temporarily until the surgery could be completed.
Baby W was placed under the guardianship of the court starting Wednesday until he recovers from surgery, but no later than the end of January. The surgery, which is set for Friday morning, is estimated to take 48 hours to complete. Two doctors were appointed as Baby W’s legal representatives for the purpose of consenting to surgery, and Reeves and Savage were appointed as his representatives for “all other purposes.” Doctors said they would “take the parents’ views into consideration” whenever possible — as long as doing so wouldn’t compromise “Baby W’s interests.”
The decision followed a tense period of several weeks fraught with baseless claims, according to the order.
After Baby W underwent a procedure in late October, his parents “were distressed” when they learned that he had had to receive a “top up” of blood. They requested that in the future, an alternative be found, as they did not want their child to receive “any blood other than blood that did not contain the Pfizer vaccine, mRNA, the spike protein or any other associated contaminants,” the order said.
Reeves and Savage later told health-care workers at Starship hospital in Auckland that they believed spike proteins in the blood of people who had received mRNA vaccines — such as the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines — were “causing unexpected deaths relating to transfusions.”
A meeting between Baby W’s parents and doctors in November was “hijacked by the parents’ support person” who spewed “her theory about conspiracies,” according to the order. The person claimed that infants who had received transfusions had died at Starship hospital.
Two days earlier, doctors had met with Savage to explain “that they could not spend more time considering” their requests that Baby W receive blood from special donors and that the parents would need to come to a decision whether to consent to the surgery. Savage “became extremely upset,” according to the order, and accused the doctors of “cornering her without any support present.”
Gault, the judge, said in a Thursday evening court filing that Reeves and Savage had also obstructed the medical staff’s efforts to prepare Baby W for surgery. “You touch our child and we will press criminal charges against you,” they told the staff, according to the filing.