ONE of the largest maternity hospitals in the country has been granted permission by the High Court to perform an emergency blood transfusion on the child of a Jehovah's Witnesses couple who is at risk of being born prematurely.
The child's mother -- who is around 26 weeks' pregnant -- presented to the Coombe Maternity Hospital in Dublin after suffering a spontaneous premature ruptured membrane, the High Court heard.
Doctors at the hospital treating the woman -- who cannot be named by order of the court -- said they could not predict exactly when the child would be delivered, but that the likelihood of a premature birth was high.
Medics said if the child was born in the next four to five weeks the infant would most likely need a transfusion of blood or blood products.
For religious reasons, the parents have refused permission to the hospital to administer a transfusion.
After hearing from both the hospital and the child's father, Mr Justice Kevin Feeney said it was appropriate to make the orders allowing the treatment as the court had to consider the child's safety.
Mr Justice Feeney, who made the order for medical treatment if the child requires it, said the evidence showed it was likely the child would require a blood transfusion to safeguard its life.
Eileen Barrington, for the hospital, said the longer the birth could be delayed the better the chance of a successful outcome.
She said the hospital fully respected the parents' religious beliefs.
The child's father, who was not legally represented, told the court that he and his wife could not consent to a blood transfusion as it was something "conscientiously objected to" by him and members of his faith.
He expressed a number of concerns to the court, including that all other alternative treatments would be considered before any transfusion occurred.