Court orders Minn. parents to treat son's cancer

Must find doctor or risk losing custody of teen

''I'd fight it. I'd punch them and I'd kick them,'' Daniel Hauser, 13, said if doctors tried to administer him chemotherapy. ''I'd fight it. I'd punch them and I'd kick them,'' Daniel Hauser, 13, said if doctors tried to administer him chemotherapy. (Associated Press via Kyndell Harkness/The Star Tribune)
By Amy Forliti
Associated Press / May 16, 2009
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MINNEAPOLIS - A Minnesota couple who refused chemotherapy for their 13-year-old son were ordered yesterday to pick a doctor and get their son's tumor X-rayed to determine if the boy would still benefit from the cancer treatment - or if it may already be too late.

Brown County District Judge John Rodenberg found Daniel Hauser has been "medically neglected" by his parents, Colleen and Anthony Hauser.

The judge allowed Daniel to stay with his parents, noting they love him and acted in good faith. But he gave them until Tuesday to get an updated chest X-ray and select an oncologist.

If the tumor has not increased in size and if Daniel's prognosis remains as optimistic as doctors testified last week, then chemotherapy and possible future radiation appeared to be in Daniel's best interest, Rodenberg wrote.

"The State has successfully shown by clear and convincing evidence that continued chemotherapy is medically necessary," he wrote.

He said he would not order chemotherapy if doctors find the cancer has advanced to a point where it is "too late."

However, he said, if chemotherapy is ordered and the family still refuses, Daniel will be placed in temporary custody.

It was unclear how the medicine would be administered if the boy fights it, which he said he would do, according to his court testimony unsealed yesterday.

According to Daniel's court testimony, he believes the chemo will kill him, and said: "I'd fight it. I'd punch them and I'd kick them."

Calvin Johnson, a lawyer for Daniel's parents, said the family is considering an appeal. For now, he said, the boy is abiding by the order and will have an X-ray on Monday.

Daniel was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma in January and it was recommended he have six rounds of chemotherapy. He underwent one round in February, but stopped after that single treatment. He and his parents opted instead for "alternative medicines," citing religious beliefs.

Doctors have said Daniel's cancer had a 90 percent chance of being cured with chemotherapy and radiation. Without those treatments, doctors said his chances of survival are 5 percent. Child protection workers accused Daniel's parents of medical neglect, and went to court seeking custody.

Court testimony indicated Daniel's tumor shrank after the first round of chemo, but has since grown. His mother, Colleen Hauser, testified last week: "My son is not in any medical danger at this point."

She has been treating his cancer with herbal supplements, vitamins, ionized water, and other natural alternatives - despite testimony from five doctors who agreed Daniel needed chemotherapy.

Rodenberg wrote that state statutes require parents to provide necessary medical care for a child. The statutes say alternative and complementary healthcare methods aren't enough.

A court-appointed lawyer for Daniel, Philip Elbert, called the judge's decision unfortunate.