A judge’s decision to overrule the parents of a six-year-old boy and order them to allow him to have chemotherapy was based on medical evidence and the child’s best interests, says the Australian Medical Association.
A Perth doctor took legal action when Angela Kiszko and Adrian Strachan refused chemotherapy and radiotherapy for their son Oshin, who was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumour in December.
Ms Kiszko, who wants to pursue alternative treatment, told the court she should choose her son’s treatment and did not want to put him through the pain and side effects of cancer treatment like a “lab rat”.
However, Family Court Judge Stephen Thackray in March said “parental power was not unlimited” and found the parents were not acting in their child’s best interests because doctors believed he would die within a few months without treatment.
The court was told Oshin had a 30 per cent prospect of surviving for five years if chemotherapy started immediately and a 50 per cent chance with both chemotherapy and radiotherapy, but could die within months without it.
The parents have contacted media outlets and are appealing the decision.
AMA national ethics chair and WA president Michael Gannon said he thought the doctor’s decision to legally challenge the parents was brave.
“It is very difficult to try to make a case to a parent that you think you know better than their wishes for their own child and put their head above the parapet,” he told ABC radio.
“There is no doubt at all about this decision being made based on significant prospects of a cure or, if not, significant prospects of a high quality of life for a meaningful period of time.”
The boy’s parents argued they could not bear to see their son suffer the side effects of cancer treatment.
“I have watched and learned what all these children and their families go through and it is nothing short of toxic hell,” Ms Kiszko argued.
“The children are not really alive, they are completely drugged and exhausted and on the verge of death.”
Family friend Lynda Jones told Seven News the boy’s quality of life would be poor because of the side effects of treatment, including a low IQ, visual, hearing and spine problems.
However, Dr Gannon said the burden of proof was “very, very high” for a court to overrule the wishes of parents or guardians of a child above a doctor.