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Hospital Battling Amish Family's Decision to End Girl's Chemotherapy

Posted by on Aug. 29, 2013 at 1:13 PM
  • 71 Replies

An Ohio appeals court has sided with a hospital that wants to continue treating a 10-year-old Amish girl with chemotherapy after her parents decided to stop the treatment for her leukemia.

Sarah Hershberger had tumors on her neck, chest and kidneys when her parents initially agreed to chemotherapy at Akron Children's Hospital earlier this year. Her family says the side effects were terrible and they decided to treat her leukemia with natural remedies instead.

On Tuesday, an appeals court ruled a juvenile court judge must reconsider the decision that blocked the hospital's attempt to give an attorney, who's also a registered nurse, limited guardianship over Sarah and the power to make medical decisions for her.

Though the Amish typically shy away from modern technology, her father agreed to a phone interview with ABC News.

"We've seen how sick it makes her," Andy Hershberger said. "Our belief is the natural stuff will do just as much as that stuff if it's God's will."

With chemotherapy, Sarah's doctor's say she has an 85 percent chance of survival and without it, she could die within a year.

In a statement to ABC News, Maria Schimer, the hospital attorney lobbying to take over Sarah's care said, "I believe there can be no doubt that it is in her best interest to have chemotherapy and have a chance to live a full life."

Sarah's tumors shrunk after a month of chemotherapy but Hershberger says the side effects became too much for her to handle. In June, the family stopped chemotherapy and began treating Sarah with natural medicines, such as herbs and vitamins.

"She would have more suffering doing chemo than not," Hershberger said.

In July, the hospital took the family to court seeking temporary guardianship. The judge in Medina County in northeast Ohio ruled that Sarah's parents had the right to make medical decisions for her because there's no evidence they are unfit.

As the family waits for the court's final decision, the Hershbergers say they plan to stay away from the hospital and leave their daughter's health in God's hands.

"The state's interest to protect life always [is] compelling and at the end of the day, it will override parent's right," lawyer Brianne DeSellier said, who has no affiliation with this case.

by on Aug. 29, 2013 at 1:13 PM
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Replies (1-10):
ashellbell
by shellbark on Aug. 29, 2013 at 1:18 PM
3 moms liked this
If she dies, her parents should be prosecuted for negligent homicide.
AlekD
by Gold Member on Aug. 29, 2013 at 1:22 PM
2 moms liked this

In another article about this it said that the girl begged her parents to take her off the chemotherapy. Is she not allowed to make that decision for herself?

Quoting ashellbell:

If she dies, her parents should be prosecuted for negligent homicide.


                      

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9                                                   My Blog

pansyprincess
by Silver Member on Aug. 29, 2013 at 1:26 PM
1 mom liked this

Oh gosh, how horrible and sad.  But 85% chance of recovery?  My child also begs me to not do homework some nights ... kids don't get the big picture always.

I think the state needs to step in and try and save this child. 

furbabymum
by Gold Member on Aug. 29, 2013 at 1:27 PM
1 mom liked this

 At 10, no. She's not capable of looking past the present discomfort and into the future of her life at 10 imo.

Quoting AlekD:

In another article about this it said that the girl begged her parents to take her off the chemotherapy. Is she not allowed to make that decision for herself?

Quoting ashellbell:

If she dies, her parents should be prosecuted for negligent homicide.


 

bluerooffarm
by Bronze Member on Aug. 29, 2013 at 1:27 PM
1 mom liked this

 Look, let's take the Amish part out of it for a minute.  See, they aren't stopping the chemo because they want to leave it all up to God, they are stopping the chemo because of the horrible side effects.  It's exteremely difficult to watch your child going through this process, but it should ultimately be the parents' desicion. 

I have a close relative that is 30 days into chemo for her leukemia and she is considering ending the process.  She has lost 30 pounds (in less than 30 days), her eyesight is nearly gone, her hair all fell out (I know that one's no biggie, really), and she is always cold.  She feels like the chemo is killing her.  This article doesn't go into any of that, so I have no idea what the treatment is doing to her specifically,  but I think the parents should make the choice since

Quote:

there's no evidence they are unfit.


 

crafthag
by Member on Aug. 29, 2013 at 1:28 PM
Chemotherapy is not a cure all. It's harsh chemicals that make a person very sick. I've watched my sister go through it twice, I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy. Sometimes allowing someone to die is the most merciful thing you can do.
matofour
by Bronze Member on Aug. 29, 2013 at 1:29 PM
At ten, no I don't believe she has the mental capacity to make this choice for herself.
Ten year olds need guidance, that why they are ten, go to school and live at home.
They don't have the mental capacity to make life and death choices.
And growing up the way she has, I am sure she's making this choice because its what she's been conditioned to believe.



Quoting AlekD:

In another article about this it said that the girl begged her parents to take her off the chemotherapy. Is she not allowed to make that decision for herself?

Quoting ashellbell:

If she dies, her parents should be prosecuted for negligent homicide.



lga1965
by Ruby Member on Aug. 29, 2013 at 1:31 PM

 Oh wow. I thought it was just Christian Scientists who were against Doctors, medicines, hospitals, treatments,etc. How awful.

KelliansMom
by Bronze Member on Aug. 29, 2013 at 1:31 PM
After watching my husband get four rounds of chemo (five days in a row each time) I don't know if we could watch our child go though it either with out trying any other methods first. At ten I think she should have some input on her therapies and such too. Cancer and chemo really age a child beyond their years to begin with.
crafthag
by Member on Aug. 29, 2013 at 1:31 PM
1 mom liked this
But she'd be old enough to decide to have an abortion. Smh.

Quoting furbabymum:

 At 10, no. She's not capable of looking past the present discomfort and into the future of her life at 10 imo.


Quoting AlekD:


In another article about this it said that the girl begged her parents to take her off the chemotherapy. Is she not allowed to make that decision for herself?


Quoting ashellbell:

If she dies, her parents should be prosecuted for negligent homicide.



 

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