A 13-year-old Minnesota boy will likely die from a treatable form of cancer if he continues to refuse chemotherapy, his doctor testified Friday.
Daniel Hauser, of Sleepy Eye, is at the center of a legal struggle in which local authorities accuse his parents of medical neglect. He suffers from Hodgkin's lymphoma. The boy, who claims to be an Indian medicine man, stopped chemotherapy after a single treatment, opting instead for alternative medicines, prompting child protection workers to seek custody. Doctors had recommended six chemo treatments, followed by radiation.
Dr. Bruce Bostrom, a pediatric oncologist at Childrens Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota and Daniel's treating physician, estimated the risk of death from forgoing treatment at about 95%. He testified that Daniel's tumor had grown since he had his one round of treatment.
Attorneys for Daniel and his parents, Colleen and Anthony Hauser, asked Bostrom about various side effects of chemotherapy, including lowered immunity, secondary forms of cancer, fatigue and infertility.
"In my opinion the benefits of treatment far outweigh the risks of treatment," Bostrom testified. Daniel's mother, Colleen, testified that she approved of using western medicine during a life threatening emergency, such as a heart attack, but she said that did not apply.
"My son is not in any medical danger at this point," she said, adding that Daniel's first treatment left him "beyond depression." She said Daniel wouldn't submit to it again.
"He said he will bite the doctor's arm off," she said.
The family asserts membership in an American Indian religious organization called Nemenhah, though they don't claim to be Indians. In an affidavit, Daniel said he is a medicine man and church elder.