Washington Teen Dies After Court Blocks Parents Demand for Blood Transfusion Based on His Religious Beliefs

Only hours after a Washington State judge ruled that Dennis Lindberg could refuse a life-saving blood transfusion as violative of his Jehovah’s Witness faith, he passed away at age 14.  

The parents of Lindberg demanded the medical intervention and claimed that the boy’s current guardian, an aunt who is a Jehovah’s Witness, had exercised undue influence over the child.  Superior Court Judge John Meyer denied a motion by the state to force the boy to have a blood transfusion even though he acknowledged that the boy is “basically giving himself a death sentence.”

Dennis was diagnosed with leukemia in early November and began treating him with chemotherapy at Children’s Hospital, but refused the transfusion on religious grounds.  

The case will likely be the subject for debate for years.  It turns on whether a minor or even a guardian can make a decision to terminate a minor’s life on religious grounds.  I would understand and support an adult making such a decision for herself. However, the state does have some duty toward a minor. 

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