…as doctor refused to let the child die

The Supreme Court in TEGA ESABUNOR & ANOR. VS. DR. TUNDE FAWEYA & 4 ORS (2019) 7 N. W. L. R, PART. 1671, P. 316 @ PP. 340, PARAS. C-G, 344, PARA. C, 347, PARAS. D-E laid this quagmire to rest.

In the aforementioned case, the 2nd Appellant who is a member of JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES CHRISTIAN sect gave birth to little Tega on the 19th April, 1997, at the Chevron Clinic, Lekki Peninsula, Lagos State.

On 11th May, 1997, within a month of his birth, her son fell gravely ill and was taken back to Chevron Clinic. Dr. Tunde Faweya immediately commenced treatment and after administering several medications, the child had poor colour, was convulsing and having difficulty in breathing. Upon proper diagnosis, it was discovered that the child urgently needed BLOOD TRANSFUSION to stay alive.

Surprisingly, the mother and father of the dying child objected to the blood transfusion because their religious belief required them to abstain from blood transfusion.

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The Doctor however, did not agree with the parents. He promptly incidented the matter to the Nigeria Police Force on the strength of which the Police filed a Motion ex-parte before the Magistrate Court pursuant to sections 27(1) and 30 of the Children and Young Persons Law, Cap. 25, Laws of Lagos State, 1994, for an order that the Hospital be allowed to do all and anything necessary for the protection of the life and health of the Child and same was granted.

Armed with the Order, the Child was taken away from the parents and the blood transfusion was carried out. After he became well, he was handed over to the parents.

Being irked by the decision of the doctor to carryout the blood transfusion against their wish, the mother filed an action in Court against the doctor, hospital, Commissioner of Police and even the Magistrate that granted the order was made a party. The matter was dismissed both at the High Court and Court of Appeal.

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In further dismissing the appeal, the Supreme Court held thus :

“All adult persons have the inalienable right to make any choice they may decide to make and assume the consequences. Accordingly, an adult person who is conscious and in full control of his mental capacity, and is of sound mind has the right to either accept or refuse medical treatment, including blood transfusion. In such case, the hospital has no choice but to respect the person’s wishes. However, different considerations apply to a child because a child is incapable of making decisions for himself and the law is duty bound to protect such a child from abuse of his rights even by the child’s parents. So, when a competent parent or person in loco parentis refuses medical treatment or blood transfusion for a child on religious grounds, the Court should step in…. These considerations outweigh whatever religious belief the parent of the child may have about any form of medical treatment because the child may grow up to reject his parent’s religious beliefs…………. “

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2 Comments

  1. This is a good judgement. I applaud this judgement with a standing ovation.

  2. Something is not right here. The same religious beliefs that blinded them from seeing reasons to save the life of that precious gift (Child) from God didn’t restraint them from engaging in legal tussles in a worldly court. This is exactly what Christ had in mind when he said:
    Matthew 23:23
    [23]Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.

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