Mr and Mrs Emmanuel Onokpise, whose baby was “rescued” by the Lagos Office of the Public Defender (OPD), have denied that their child was at the risk of death.
In a statement by the family, who are Jehovah’s Witnesses, the parents said they loved their child and would not have watched the baby die.
According to them, the officials, who forced a blood transfusion on the baby, were not properly informed.
The parents said doctors informed them after the girl was delivered that she had jaundice and referred them to another hospital where she could be treated without blood transfusion.
“When we were discharged from Avon Hospital, we were referred to Outreach Children Specialist Hospital, which we were informed could treat our daughter’s condition without blood.
“When we were discharged from Outreach Children Specialist Hospital because we could no longer afford the charges, we sustained the treatment of our daughter with traditional therapy against jaundice until she was readmitted to Massey Children Hospital, Lagos Island, where she was being treated successfully with erythropoietin that we purchased.”
According to Mr Onokpise, doctors at the three hospitals did not inform the baby’s parents of any danger of death to the child due to her weight.
“They only said the baby may be negatively affected if the jaundice was not treated, and we vigorously pursued her treatment in two other hospitals other than the first,” he said.
On the perception that they were risking the baby’s life due to their belief, Mr Onokpise said: “I can understand why they hold that view. It is because they do not know how much I love my daughter and all the steps we took to get her proper treatment.
“We exhausted all our finances and were contacting one doctor after another to get the best treatment for her.
“What we simply wanted was for the medical staff to treat our daughter effectively without the risks associated with a blood transfusion and in a way that leaves us with a good conscience before God, the Giver of life.
“I have read of many dangers associated with blood transfusion. I have also read of medical cases where people who were treated by doctors without blood fared better than those who were treated with blood transfusion.
“Furthermore, Jehovah, the creator, expressly prohibits the ingestion of blood. He made this law both before and during the Christian era.”
Onokpise said some law enforcement officers acted on the misinformation that his daughter was dying, with the implication that someone else loved her more than her parents.
“I feel that the government was presented with none-factual information and that they acted as they deemed best with the information they had. “Perhaps, fairness would have required that they heard us also. But that wasn’t done,” he said.
On how it felt to have their child taken away, Onokpise said: “It does not seem like something any parent would pray for to wake up to the visit of total strangers, some with guns, insisting on taking their beloved baby away.
“We have observed God’s law on blood for ourselves and our baby. We do not take responsibility for the actions of the government.
“We love our baby dearly and pray she gets well — and does not develop any future health complications traceable to the well-known risks of blood transfusion.
“We look forward to training her to be a responsible citizen alongside her siblings.”
The baby’s father said he and his wife borrowed to pay for their child’s treatment. The family said they had not been given any report on the child since she was taken away, nor did they have free access to her.
“My wife was even prevented from breastfeeding the baby. But through every means we can eke out, we keep checking on her well being.
“My wife and I are peace-loving people, as can be attested to by others. Of course, we look forward to taking our daughter home and raising her. To someone else, she is only ‘the child’, but to us, she is our daughter, a gift from Jehovah.
“Our daughter deserves parental love and personalised care and bonding with us. So, our overriding interest right now is that she should get well and come home with us,” Onokpise said. The parents said they did not know where the blood given to their child was obtained from.