The police and officials of the Lagos State government on Tuesday restrained the parents and church members of a severely jaundiced new-born while doctors admitted blood to her.
Doctors at the Massey Street Children Hospital on Lagos Island were complying with a court order authorising the Office of the Public Defender (OPD) to take custody of and care for the baby.
The baby, belonging to Mr and Mrs Emmanuel Onokpise of Abata Close, Orile-Iganmu, was discovered to be severely jaundiced by doctors at a private hospital in Surulere where she was born.
The doctors prescribed that she be given urgent blood transfusion for her to survive.
But her parents declined the procedure on religious grounds and the OPD, which was notified of the baby’s worsening health condition by a member of the public 14 days after her birth, obtained the court order.
The Onokpises, who are members of the Jehovah’s Witnesses (JW) faith, allegedly unilaterally discharged the baby from the hospital, against medical advice.
OPD Director Mrs Olayinka Adeyemi, yesterday, said the state and hospital officials faced more opposition from the Onokpises and their religious friends while attempting to administer blood to the baby.
“The doctors succeeded in administering life-saving blood to the baby with the help of the police, who kept the parents and church members of the baby at bay. The baby had become so emaciated,” Mrs Adeyemi told The Nation.
She assured the family that the state had no interest in depriving them of their child but that its primary concern was keeping the baby alive andhealthy.
Mrs Adeyemi said: “The child, every child, has a right to survive.”
Asked if the baby would be returned to the parents soon, despite the court order, she said: “If the parents are calm and they want to take back the child, why not? The child still needs the mother.”
On Monday, the OPD said the baby, which weighed 2.2 kilogrammes at birth, weighed less than 1.7 kilogrammes at the time of rescue, allegedly “due to lack of medical attention, after being kept at home for one week and five days by the recalcitrant parents”.