Who has the final say on a child’s medical treatment?

An 11-year old in Hamilton has leukaemia and does not want to continue with chemotherapy. It’s a decision the child’s parents support. They want to look at alternative therapies, but the doctors treating the child say chemo is by far the best option. So who should decide?

The health of any person is the responsibility of society as long as there are services to cater for that. Medical treatment shouldn’t be stopped if this becomes life-threatening.

In the case of children, they’re too young to take decisions on such matters. They should get all the support to bear with the treatment however painful it can be if it can save their lives.

Yielding to a child’s refusal to get medical treatment is a tacit form of euthanasia, as his /her death becomes a permanent cure.

Doctors and psychiatrists should work out ways to convince the child that it is in his/her interest to be courageous enough to get the best cure to enjoy a healthy life through which they can fulfil their ambitions.

It must be a painful experience for the parents to have a critically ill child refusing crucial treatment. But their support and care will be the cure needed for the child to voluntarily accept medical treatments. Sometimes the psychological support plays wonder when the physical side is run down. It’s the mental preparations for a morale lifting that can defeat the physical pain.

After all, doctors know better. If they are sure of their treatment, they should have the final say. Parents can be just the moral support of their child to go through a life saving experience. For parents, it’s better to feel that they have done all they can than to feel that they have let their child down by being soft out of compassion instead of being firm about a matter of life and death.

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