Ohio hospital seeks legal guardianship of Amish girl with cancer after her parents stop chemotherapy in favor of herbs and vitamins

Maria Schimer

Maria Schimer

Hospital administrators have taken a 10-year-old patient’s parents to court to force them to allow her to get life saving chemotherapy treatment.

Sarah Hershberger has leukemia and her parents brought her to Akron Children’s Hospital in Ohio to treat the tumors on her kidney, neck and chest- a number of which were visible to the naked eye.

Her parents Andy and Anna Hershberger initially said that she could be treated with the necessary chemotherapy and she underwent some rounds of the procedure but not enough to completely eradicate the cancer.

They have since decided against it, saying that they want to use natural medicine like vitamins and herbs to solve the problem.

The Medina Gazette reports that the hospital already applied to take over legal guardianship of Sarah but were rejected by one Ohio judge who has since retired.

‘The court cannot deprive these parents of their right to make medical decisions for their daughter because there is not a scintilla of evidence showing the parents are unfit,’ Judge John Lohn wrote in his decision before retiring earlier this month.

He added that the girl’s parents were ‘caring, attentive, protective and concerned’.
It is unclear how long Sarah underwent chemotherapy, but apparently long enough for the visible tumors on her neck and chest to disappear, as court records say that they went away but she did not go into remission.

‘Sarah begged her parents to stop the treatments. Anna said she and Andy could not stand to watch what was happening to their daughter,’ Judge Lohn wrote.

Sarah apparently complained about feeling sick and she didn’t want to become infertile.
Nausea, organ damage and infertility are all common side effects of chemotherapy, but in this case, doctors say that ‘the question of Sarah’s treatment is life and death’.

Mrs Hershberger ‘prayed for wisdom to discern God’s plan for Sarah’ and believed that the therapy was killing her.

The hospital’s attorney Maria Schimer, who is also a registered nurse, is now appealing the decision and hopes to be granted limited guardianship so that she is in charge of making medical decisions for Sarah.

‘The plan presented by Sarah’s parents is almost certain to lead to Sarah’s death,’ she wrote in a letter to the court.

‘Every day that goes by without treatment, Sarah’s chance of surviving her cancer is diminished.’

With chemotherapy, her chances of survival increase to 85 per cent.

Published on the Medina Gazette, August 23, 2013.

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