By Sasha Goldstein / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
An 11-year-old Amish girl is in hiding after an Ohio court ruled the girl must listen to medical professionals and continue chemotherapy – treatments her parents don’t want because they make her sick.
Sarah Hershberger’s parents would rather pursue natural treatment for the little girl, who has battled leukemia since April.
And those treatments may be working. A family members say recent scans show the girl is cancer-free after the family returned from a natural cancer treatment center in Central America.
“She’s a vibrant, healthy girl,” Isaac Keim told the Akron Beacon Journal.
The parents at first took the advice of medical professionals at Akron Children’s Hospital and started the girl on a two-year chemotherapy treatment when she was diagnosed.
The drugs appeared to work: the tumors on her neck, chest and kidneys diminished in size as the chemicals took effect.
But the girl’s parents stopped the treatments in June after the second round of chemo made her ill.
“We’ve seen how sick it makes her,” Andy Hershberger, Sarah’s father, told ABC News in August. “Our belief is the natural stuff will do just as much as that stuff if it’s God’s will.”
A court last month sided with the children’s hospital and appointed a guardian to make medical decisions for Sarah. Days before the ruling, the family took off from the small Amish community in Spencer, Ohio and headed for Central America to pursue holistic methods at a natural cancer treatment center.
“It’s the constitutional right, but [there’s a] moral right to refuse conventional medical treatment,” Maurice Thompson, a family attorney, told ABC News this week.
The family has since returned to the U.S. but remain in hiding to avoid the appeals court ruling on her cancer care. They say the natural treatments are making a difference.
“Sarah’s condition has gotten a lot better since the family has been pursuing the alternative treatment,” Thompson told ABC.
Officials at Akron’s Children’s Hospital have told the Associated Press that they are morally and legally obligated to make sure the girl receives proper care. They said the girl’s illness, lymphoblastic lymphoma, is an aggressive form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, but there is a high survival rate with treatment.
The Amish are deeply religious and shun many facets of modern life, but they don’t reject modern medicine, according to the AP.
Without the chemo, doctors say girl could die within a year.
The family tells ABC they are willing to take that risk.
“If we do chemotherapy and she would happen to die, she would probably suffer more than if we would do it this way and she would happen to die,” her father told ABC this summer.
with News Wire Services
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