Parents of Sick Child Reject Blood From COVID-Vaccinated Donors

The parents of a young boy in need of a blood transfusion are fighting a legal battle to prevent doctors from giving him blood from vaccinated people.

The child is due to receive the blood transfusion as part of a delicate heart surgery in Italy. Amid the search for a suitable donor, the child's anti-vaccination parents are trying to ensure that the blood only comes from someone who has not been vaccinated.

However, staff at the Sant'Orsola clinic in Bologna say the procedure must be allowed to go ahead regardless of the vaccination status of the donor since blood transfusions must follow very precise rules.

The reason for the child's parents' stance is religiously-motivated, according to Italy's Il Messaggero newspaper, in the wake of reports that some vaccines, including the type used to protect against COVID, are developed using fetal cell lines.

Meanwhile the Gazzetta di Modena newspaper reports that the family are opposed due to their fears that the vaccine could be transferred from one person to another via a blood transfusion.

Both issues have come up before. The Catholic Church has stated that it is morally acceptable for people to receive a COVID vaccine that has been developed with the use of fetal cell lines, with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops stating that getting vaccinated is "an act of charity toward the other members of our community."

Regarding the transfer of a vaccine via blood transfusion, Jessa Merrill, the Red Cross director of biomedical communications, told Kaiser Health News (KHN) in 2021 that while antibodies to protect COVID are produced in the bloodstream in response to vaccination, "the actual vaccine components are not."

In any case, the child's blood transfusion case has gone to court this week, with a judge set to decide which party succeeds.

It is not the first such case of people refusing blood transfusions on behalf of their children because of anti-vaccination beliefs. Dr. Geeta Paranjape, medical director at Carter BloodCare, told KHN of one such case in Texas in which a father requested that his son receive blood exclusively from unvaccinated donors ahead of a scheduled surgery.

Paranjape said many vaccine concerns were fueled by misinformation.

Such requests have been relatively rare, and in any case the answer has been a resounding "no." "I know of no one who has acceded to such a request, which would be an operational can of worms for a medically unjustifiable request," Dr. Louis Katz, chief medical officer for ImpactLife, an Iowa-based blood center, told KHN in 2021.

Blood donation
A stock photo shows a patient donating blood. There have been cases of vaccine-skeptics requesting blood from unvaccinated people for medical procedures. Ritthichai/Getty