Health Law

New hearing ordered in hospital's quest to resume chemo for Amish girl

An Ohio hospital has won a new hearing in its effort to resume chemotherapy for a 10-year-old Amish girl whose parents discontinued her leukemia treatments.

An Ohio appeals court said the trial judge neglected to consider the interests of the girl when he refused to appoint a temporary medical guardian on her behalf, report Reuters and the Associated Press. The opinion is here (PDF).

The Medina County trial judge, John Lohn, had said “there is not a scintilla of evidence showing the parents are unfit” when he refused to appoint the guardian. But the appeals court said there was no requirement that the parents be found unfit before a guardian can be appointed. Ohio law allows limited guardianship, the court said, when a minor’s interests will be promoted by the appointment.

Two weeks before issuing the decision, the appeals court had ordered the girl’s treatments to continue pending the appeal.

A doctor for Akron Children’s Hospital had testified the girl suffers from T-cell lymphoblastic lymphoma, which has an 85 percent survival rate with treatment. The parents, Andy and Anna Hershberger, say the chemo caused significant side effects and their daughter had begged to stop the treatments. They agreed after a great deal of prayer, Andy Hershberger told AP. The girl is being treated with herbs and vitamins, Hershberger said, and they had planned to return the girl to the hospital if her health takes a turn for the worse.

The court ruled in an appeal filed by the would-be guardian, Maria Schimer, a former nurse who is general counsel for Northeast Ohio Medical University. Akron Children’s hospital had approached her to file the guardianship application.

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