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Hospital Continues to Fight Amish Family’s Choice to Stop Girl’s Chemotherapy

Update Date: Aug 29, 2013 04:00 PM EDT

When it comes to medical care, doctors must provide patients with all of the treatment options available in order to maximize survival rates. Even though doctors can press for certain therapies that promise good results, the decision to pursue these options still lies in the hands of the patients, or the patients' parents if they are under aged. However, sometimes the parents might not know what is best for their children. In a recent medical case in Ohio, a hospital is still fighting an Amish family's decision to stop chemotherapy for their 10-year-old daughter.

The young girl, Sarah Hershberger, was diagnosed with leukemia earlier this year. After discovering tumors on her neck, chest and kidneys, she began chemotherapy, which her parents consented to at the Akron Children's Hospital. After one month of chemotherapy, Sarah's tumors had shrunk. However, she was also suffering from the nasty side effects of the chemotherapy. After witnessing the pain she was going through, Sarah's parents decided to stop the chemotherapy and turn to natural remedies.   

"We've seen how sick it makes her," Andy Hershberger said to ABC News. "Our belief is the natural stuff will do just as much as that stuff if it's God's will. She would have more suffering doing chemo than not."

After the parents stopped the treatment, the hospital sued the parents for temporary guardianship of Sarah in July. According to doctors, with the chemotherapy, Sarah's survival rate is around 85 percent. Without the treatment, she could die within the year. At the juvenile courts, the judge from Medina County in northeast Ohio ruled that Sarah's parents had the right to stop treatment. After appealing this ruling, on this past Tuesday, an appeals court ruled that the juvenile court must reconsider its decision.

"I believe there can be no doubt that it is in her best interest to have chemotherapy and have a chance to live a full life," Maria Schimer, the hospital attorney lobbying to take over Sarah's care said.

As the hospital awaits the decision, Sarah remains out of the hospital without care. 

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