Judge is asked to order parents to change boy's medical treatment

CANTON, Ohio (AP) - A social services agency has asked a judge to order parents of a 7-year-old boy diagnosed with leukemia to allow conventional medical treatment rather than diet-based care.

Stark County's Department of Job and Family Services accuses Theresa and Greg Maxin of neglect because they have refused to resume their son Noah's chemotherapy. According to a complaint filed in Stark County Family Court, Noah's leukemia, though in remission, could return if his parents continue to reject a recommended treatment.

Instead, the Canton couple has embraced holistic treatment based on a diet designed to strengthen the child's immune system.

The Maxins said they are doing what they think is best for their son by keeping him on a diet that involves no sugar, dairy products or meat. A telephone message was left for them Thursday.

Judge David Stucki held a hearing Wednesday. A member of his staff said Thursday she was not sure when he would rule.

The agency wants to have Noah seen by a board certified pediatric hematologist-oncologist and argues that Ohio law requires that parents not only care for their children but provide proper medical treatment, said Randy Muth, a lawyer for the social services agency.

The Maxins' lawyer, Gregory Beck, said the complaint infringes on the couple's right to make informed decisions about their child's holistic care.

Leukemia is a cancer that originates in marrow, and the accumulation of malignant cells interferes with production of healthy blood cells and makes the body unable to protect itself against infections, according to The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

The boy has acute lymphoblastic leukemia, the most common childhood form.

Holistic care concerns body, mind and spirit and integrates conventional and complementary therapies to promote health and to prevent and treat disease, according to the American Holistic Medical Association.

Noah began the recommended treatment plan that included a blood transfusion and drugs. But three months into the 3½ year treatment plan, his family stopped going to Children's Hospital Medical Center of Akron.

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)