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Health and Medicine

Appeals court reverses Medina judge's order on Amish girl's treatment
Akron Children's wants a guardian appointed to oversee treatment for leukemia

Kabir Bhatia
In The Region:

An Ohio appeals court this afternoon reversed a decision on whether a guardian should make medical choices for an Amish girl.  The 10-year-old’s family does not want to continue her chemotherapy, citing their beliefs and the side effects.

As WKSU’s Kabir Bhatia reports, the appeals decision means an Ohio hospital will be heading back to court in Medina County.

LISTEN: Appeals court weighs in on Amish child's treatment

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Sarah Hershberger was diagnosed with leukemia last spring at Akron Children’s Hospital. But in June, after one round of chemo, the family stopped treatment because the side effects were so bad. They’re pursuing a program of natural herbs and vitamins.

In July, a Medina probate judge said the parents’ objections to the chemo outweighed the hospital’s concerns. He denied Akron Children’s request that an attorney -- who's also a registered nurse -- make medical decisions for the girl.

But an appeals court says the judge needs to re-evaluate, giving new consideration to the hospital’s arguments.   

Attorney John Oberholtzer says the family is disappointed.

“The court of appeals said you disregard the parents in this case.  And you determine whether or not this would be in the best interest of the ward – the person in question, in this case, being Sarah Hershberger.”

An Akron Children’s spokesman said last week that time is of the essence, because the girl had an 85-percent chance of survival -- with treatment -- when first diagnosed.

Attorney Oberholtzer says Hershberger is in good spirits. He says she’s had two cat scans since June, but he does not know their results.  He says his clients are considering appealing to the Ohio Supreme Court.

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