The parents of a dying child have refused to allow him a heart operation unless blood used in the procedure is proven to be unvaccinated.
New Zealand’s government has applied to take over guardianship of the four-month-old in a landmark court case in Auckland.
It comes after the child’s parents were interviewed by a prominent anti-vaccination campaigner, during which the child’s father stated he demanded “untainted” blood was used in transfusion.
He added that the child had severe pulmonary valve stenosis and required surgery “almost immediately”.
The country’s health department, Te Whatu Ora, has applied for the parents’ guardianship to be removed so that treatment can be administered right away.
The New Zealand blood service said there was “no evidence in any risk” to those receiving blood from a vaccinated person, adding that donors were not divided into vaccinated and unvaccinated groups.
The parents’ lawyer, Sue Grey, another notable anti-vax advocate, said the family “wanted better care than the state can offer.”
“Because they label my clients as conspiracy theorists, [their position] is that anything my clients say can be ignored,” she told the NZ Herald.
Hundreds of the family’s supporters gathered outside a courtroom in the city for a hearing on Tuesday.
Dr Mike Shepard, interim director of the health service, said: “The decision to make an application to the court is always made with the best interests of the child in mind and following extensive conversations with whānau.
“As this matter is before the courts, we will not be commenting further.”