Appeal from order of Court of Common Pleas, Family Court Division, of Philadelphia, No. 174612, in re Ricky Ricardo Green; Appeal of Robert W. Saunderson, Jr., M. D.
Michael Minkin, Assistant Attorney General, with him Dante Mattioni, Deputy Attorney General, and J. Shane Creamer, Attorney General, for appellant.
Elliot B. Platt, with him Harvey N. Schmidt, for appellee.
Wright, P. J., Watkins, Montgomery, Jacobs, Hoffman, Spaulding, and Cercone, JJ. Opinion by Spaulding, J.
[ 220 Pa. Super. Page 192]
Ricky Ricardo Green is the 16 year old son of separated parents, Nathaniel and Ruth Green. Mr. Green pays support as directed by court order, and the child lives with his mother, the appellee. Ricky has had two attacks of poliomyelitis, resulting in his present physical ailments: residual poliomyelitis with weakness of all four extremities and trunk muscles, severe obesity, and paralytic scoliosis secondary to muscle paralysis (a curvature of the spine). As a result of these progressively worsening conditions, the child has become bedridden. He is presently a "sitter", unable to stand or ambulate due to the collapse of his spine.*fn1
A spinal fusion was recommended in 1968 by Dr. Donald A. Nagel, then chief of the spine service at the State Hospital for Crippled Children at Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania. This recommendation was reiterated by both doctors who testified at the hearing below,
[ 220 Pa. Super. Page 193]
Robert W. Saunderson, Jr., M.D., Director of the State Hospital (appellant in this action), and Oscar Corn, M. D., acting head of the Division of Orthopedic Surgery at Hahnemann Medical College and Hospital, and spine consultant to the State Hospital. The doctors agreed that if Ricky's present condition is not remedied by surgery, the effect will be a further deterioration, so that eventually he will not be able to sit up and will become a complete invalid. Their testimony further indicated that the proposed operation was necessary for Ricky's physical well-being, and was the only way to preserve for him some chance of a normal life.
Dr. Corn testified that in order to undertake the recommended operation permission for a blood transfusion is a necessity. He stated that any major surgery necessarily involves some danger, and that blood transfusions in and of themselves entail some danger. However, Dr. Corn further indicated that all precautions are taken to minimize the medically acceptable risks, and that the State Hospital has had great success with surgery of this type.*fn2
Mrs. Green is a Jehovah's Witness. She has no objection to the operation (R. 25a), but feels strongly that her religious principles prohibit any blood transfusions*fn3 (R. 25a-26a), which are necessary for surgery.
[ 220 Pa. Super. Page 194]
This caused appellant to file a petition to be appointed guardian so that he could consent to the blood transfusions. The petition was dismissed by Judge Hazel H. Brown of the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County, Family ...