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Amish girl in Ohio will not be forced to resume chemo for cancer

By Kim Palmer

CLEVELAND (Reuters) - A court-appointed guardian will stop trying to force an Amish girl with leukemia to resume chemotherapy against her Ohio parents' wishes, according to a court filing on Friday.

Maria Schimer, a lawyer and a former nurse, was appointed in October as the girl's medical guardian after the parents refused to consent to the treatment. However, she has not been able to meet with the family for months, said her attorney, Nick Capotosto.

The girl's family left the country to pursue an alternative treatment, said an organization representing the parents called the 1851 Center for Constitutional Law.

She "has responded well to the alternative treatment. The cancer is receding, and she is in excellent physical condition," said the organization's spokesman Maurice Thompson in a statement.

Doctors at Akron Children's Hospital diagnosed the 11-year-old girl with T-cell lymphoblastic lymphoma in April. The hospital's chief medical officer, Dr. Robert McGregor, has said T-cell lymphoblastic lymphoma with chemotherapy treatments has an 85 percent survival rate but without treatment the girl might only live for six months to a year.

The girl's parents, Andy and Anna Hershberger, discontinued her treatment in June after she underwent the first of five prescribed rounds of chemotherapy at the hospital and was left feeling very ill. The family decided on "natural medicines" as an alternative recourse.

Famously reclusive, Amish are Christians who shun modern technology - preferring the horse and buggy over cars, for example.

The Hershbergers also said they wanted to leave their daughter's future in God's hands and were not convinced of the survival rate. They were also worried about long-term side effects including infertility and organ damage.

(Editing by Brendan O'Brien and Lisa Shumaker)

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