Family Court to Decide If 17-Month-Old Boy Should Live or Die
- Family Court To Decide If 17-Month-Old Boy Should Live Or Die
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
March 3, 2006
LONDON, ENGLAND--In what is being called a potential landmark case,
a High Court judge heard arguments this week from a hospital that
wants to remove a life-supporting ventilator from a 17-month-old boy
and let him die -- against the wishes of his parents.
The child, identified only as "M.B." for privacy reasons, has spinal
muscular atrophy, a type of motor neuron disease that has weakened
his muscles to the point that he cannot eat or breathe on his own.
Doctors at the hospital where the boy is staying, the name of which
is also being protected, claim that his quality of life is poor and
he, therefore, should be taken off the ventilator.
His parents, however, have requested that he undergo a tracheotomy --
an operation in which a breathing tube would be permanently
inserted through a hole in his throat -- so that he can go home with
them to live.
Wednesday's hearing before Mr. Justice Holman of the High Court's
Family Division came less than a week after another judge ruled that
St. Mary's Hospital could refuse a ventilator for two-year-old
Charlotte Wyatt if she stops breathing.
What makes this case different from Charlotte's, and those of other
people with certain disabilities and medical conditions that doctors
have wanted to remove life-saving treatment, is the fact that spinal
muscular atrophy does not normally affect the brain. M.B.'s parents
say he understands everything around him and responds to them.
"We want our son to have a tracheotomy so we could take him home and
give him a life instead of him being stuck in a hospital cubicle,"
MB's mother told the Independent. "We are very hopeful we can
persuade the court that his quality of life is good enough so that
treatment should not be withdrawn."
According to Families of Spinal Muscular Atrophy, 50 percent of
children diagnosed with SMA before age two will die before their
Anita Macaulay, chief executive of the Jennifer Trust for Spinal
Muscular Atrophy, told the BBC that pioneering work in the United
States has allowed some children to live at home with a relatively
good quality of life until age seven or eight and beyond.
The case is expected to continue on Monday.
"Court to rule on allowing severely disabled boy to die" (The
"Ruling due on right-to-life baby" (BBC News)
Families of Spinal Muscular Atrophy
Jennifer Trust for Spinal Muscular Atrophy
Forwarded to this list by:
Dave Reynolds, Editor
Inclusion Daily Express / Inclusion Weekly Review
International Disability Rights News Service