by Gianna Huesch
The poignant case of Oshin Kiszko has returned to the Family Court after his parents fought court orders over the boy’s treatment for a brain tumour.
Chief Judge Stephen Thackray delivered his decision in the Family Court of WA, ruling that the court would not mandate radiotherapy for Oshin, who was diagnosed with medulloblastoma last November and underwent surgery to try to remove an aggressive tumour.
His parents had refused to allow doctors to proceed with the recommended treatments of chemotherapy and radiotherapy due to concerns over the side effects, leading the boy’s doctors and hospital to pursue legal action to enforce what the medical team believed would be life-saving therapy.
Oshin has been receiving court-ordered chemotherapy since March 27, and this has been ordered to continue. The hospital reported to the court that Oshin had “responded positively to two rounds of chemotherapy”, and Oshin’s parents now support the chemotherapy-only method of treatment, which doctors say gives him 10-20% chance of survival. With the addition of radiation therapy, Oshin’s doctors believe he would have a 30-40% chance of survival after five years. In court, experts recommended the addition of radiation treatment, however it was seen as unlikely to help in Oshin’s case as his tumour is too aggressive. Unfortunately, Oshin’s chances of survival had greatly diminished after the delays in starting chemotherapy, which will continue at Princess Margaret Hospital.
The court noted that the parents had been genuinely motivated out of love for their son, however one of the reasons radiotherapy was not ordered was that the court was “concerned the boy would be exposed to their ‘hostility’ and ‘bitterness’ if radiotherapy was forced” on Oshin. Justice Thackray is also quoted as saying “he had no doubt Oshin’s reaction to treatment would have been different had his parents been supportive”.
The court took into account conflicting expert opinions, including differences of opinion among members of the Hospital’s Ethics Committee, regarding “quality of life versus life per se”.
The current court ruling doesn’t dismiss the hospital’s application, but rather adjourns it without a fixed further hearing date so that the matter can be returned to court if the hospital considers further intervention necessary.
The order placing Oshin on Australia’s airport watchlist remains in force, and Oshin cannot be taken outside Australia, as his mother had originally planned, to access alternative therapies.
Note: The Family Court has given special permission for this case to be reported, with certain conditions including that Oshin’s doctor not be named.
Read our previous story on this case: https://www.familylawincanberra.com.au/parents-to-appeal-court-ordered-chemotherapy-for-son-with-cancer/