Judge Rules that 3-Year-Old Child with Leukemia Must Get Chemo, Against Parents’ Wishes
The child, Noah, was diagnosed with leukemia in April and started chemotherapy at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg, Florida. But his parents, Joshua McAdams, 27, and Taylor Bland-Ball, 22, said that the treatment made Noah violent and gave him mood swings.
Bland-Ball said that after ten days of treatment, test results showed no sign of cancer cells and that they were allowed to leave the hospital. She and McAdams then wanted to get a second opinion about natural treatment options, a decision she said Johns Hopkins did not like.
“They called us about a thousand times,” Bland-Ball told NBC News. “We left and we went up to Kentucky. … We just wanted the time to get our second opinion.”
A week after the family missed the start of Noah’s second round of chemotherapy, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office put out a missing child alert, and said that McAdams and Bland-Ball “refused to follow up with the life-saving medical care the child needs.” After they found the family in Kentucky, police took away custody and placed Noah with his grandparents.
The family’s attorney said that the couple want to treat his cancer with medical marijuana, CBD oil, diet and vitamins. But Bland-Ball said that their legal fight is not about the treatment plan.
“This is not about whether we’re choosing natural therapies, alternative therapies,” she told Good Morning America. “This is about our rights as parents to seek other options.”
During the trial, the state of Florida had two doctors argue that chemotherapy was immediately necessary and that Noah is at risk, while the parents and their lawyer brought in a family that said chemo nearly killed their daughter, according to WFTS in Tampa.
The judge ruled that Noah must complete an additional 28 days of chemotherapy, after which doctors will reevaluate him and see if he still has cancer. During that time, his parents can use alternative treatments — including medical marijuana — if they are cleared by his doctors. They can also find a new doctor.
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“While we were disappointed he has to start chemotherapy tomorrow, we are encouraged the judge gives him an opportunity to use additional treatments to treat him, to not only help him have less side effects from the chemotherapy [but to] help kill the cancer,” said Michael Minardi, the family’s attorney.
Bland-Ball said that they plan to appeal the ruling.
“I think it’s really important that people know that there are other options other than chemotherapy, and I think this really opened up a good discussion on parental rights, about patient rights,” she said.