Parties in dispute over baby’s heart operation fail to resolve issue after hearing

e Whatu Ora is taking a case against parents who are refusing to allow blood from vaccinated people to be used during their baby's life-saving heart operation.

The baby’s parents outside court on Wednesday.
Photo: RNZ / Mohammad Alafeshat

All sides in a dispute over a four-month-old baby who needs a heart operation have met since their court hearing, but have not been able to resolve the situation.

The baby has a serious heart condition and needs surgery, but his parents do not want that to happen with blood donated from someone who has had the Covid-19 vaccine.

Te Whatu Ora/Health NZ went to court yesterday to ask the court to take over guardianship of the baby so he could have the operation he needs.

A full hearing could not take place until 6 December, with both sides indicating the situation was so urgent they wanted to resolve it before then.

That now seemed unlikely.

The family’s lawyer, Sue Grey, said lawyers, parents, surgeons and representatives from the Blood Service met after the hearing.

It was useful because each set out their positions – but no agreement was reached, she said.

Te Whatu Ora’s lawyer Paul White said it was not appropriate for him to give details about what was discussed in that meeting.

But, it seemed likely the court hearing would still be needed, he said

Te Whatu Ora/Health NZ replaced all the country’s district health boards in July and has taken the case to ask if the court could become the baby’s guardian.

It then wants the court to appoint the doctors as agents for his medical care, meaning they would have the power to decide that he had to have the operation.

His parents would be agents for every other aspect of his care.

The baby’s mother has said he had severe pulmonary valve stenosis which meant he had a blockage in his heart and desperately needs an operation.

In yesterday’s preliminary court hearing White said any other baby with the condition would have had the surgery by now.

The delay was because the parents wanted to use only blood from an unvaccinated person in the surgery, offering their own donors.

But the NZ Blood Service, which collects and supplies blood to hospitals, did not have any separate categorisation in its stores for people who had been vaccinated.

It did not offer a service where people could chose their own donors, saying it had no clinical benefit and could introduce unnecessary safety risk compared with voluntary donations from regular donors.

The Immunisation Advisory Centre said vaccine was cleared from the blood stream within a few days of someone being vaccinated and their blood did not present any risk because they had been.