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Family Court to Decide If 17-Month-Old Boy Should Live or Die

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  • Dave Reynolds
    Family Court To Decide If 17-Month-Old Boy Should Live Or Die By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express www.InclusionDaily.com March 3, 2006 LONDON,
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 6, 2006
      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      treatment should not be withdrawn."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
      second birthday.

      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
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