Australian judge refuses to order radiotherapy for ill child

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An Australian judge on Friday ruled in favor of a couple who refused to allow their 6-year-old son to undergo radiotherapy for a malignant brain tumor.

Princess Margaret Hospital in Perth had applied for a Family Court order forcing Oshin Kiszko to undergo radiotherapy for a rare cancer known as medulloblastoma. His parents did not want him to undergo the treatment due to the risk of severe side effects.

Family Court Chief Judge Stephen Thackray had previously ordered Oshin to submit to two rounds of chemotherapy, which his parents were also against. But he sided with the parents when it came to radiation therapy, noting that the parents had agreed to continue chemotherapy instead.

"I acknowledge Oshin's parents, who have done what they thought was right," Thackray said. The judge noted that the hospital's ethics committee was divided on whether the child should undergo treatment for his cancer.

When the cancer was diagnosed in December, Oshin was given a 50 to 60 percent chance of surviving for five years if he underwent both chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

His parents, Angela Kiszko and Colin Strachan, decided that chemotherapy and radiotherapy were not worth the suffering and risks, which include permanent intellectual impairment. They asked for palliative care instead, so they could focus on improving his quality of life.

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Generally in Australia, parents have the right to refuse a doctor's recommended treatment for their child. But a court can intervene if the parent's decision appears to go against the child's best interests.

The parents' lawyer, Andrew Skerritt, told the court on Monday that his clients were willing to go ahead with more chemotherapy, noting there had been a response to the treatment.