An appeals court has sided with a hospital that wants to force a 10-year-old Amish girl to resume chemotherapy after her parents decided to stop the treatments.
The court ruled that a county judge must reconsider his decision that blocked Akron Children’s Hospital’s request to give an attorney who’s also a registered nurse limited guardianship over Sarah Hershberger and the power to make medical decisions for her.
The hospital believes Sarah will die without chemotherapy to treat her leukemia.
The judge in Medina County in northeast Ohio had ruled in July that Sarah’s parents had the right to make medical decisions for their daughter.
The appeals court ruling issued Tuesday said the judge failed to consider whether appointing a guardian would be in the girl’s best interest. It also disagreed with the judge’s decision that said he could only transfer guardianship if the parents were found unfit.
Andy Hershberger, the girl’s father, said the family agreed to begin two years of treatments for Sarah last spring but stopped a second round of chemotherapy in June because it was making her extremely sick.
Sarah begged her parents to stop the chemotherapy and they agreed after a great deal of prayer, Hershberger said. They opted to consult with a wellness center and treat Sarah with natural medicines, such as herbs and vitamins, and see another doctor who is monitoring their daughter, Hershberger said.
“We see her every day. We watch her really close,” her father said in a telephone interview. “She runs, plays. She crawls up ladders. She’s got a lot of energy, more than she had when she was doing chemo.”
Hershberger said they have not ruled out returning to Akron Children’s Hospital if Sarah’s health worsens. “We told them if it gets to the point that we cannot do anything for her, we would come back,” he said.
Robert McGregor, the hospital’s chief medical officer, said last week that they are morally and legally obligated to make sure the girl receives proper care.
He said the girl’s illness — lymphoblastic lymphoma — is an aggressive form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma but very curable if she continues treatment.