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High Court Judge allows withdrawal of 1 year-old’s treatment

A judge in the High Court has ruled that a one year-old boy with brain damage should be taken off life support.

The boy was born prematurely via caesarean section. During the birth, he was left with “profound irreversible brain damage”. The boy became ventilator dependant shortly afterwards and has not shown any signs of improvement since.

He has also been diagnosed with “chronic” lung disease from which his doctors do not expect him to recover.

The NHS Trust responsible for the boy’s medical care applied for the treatment to be withdrawn. They claimed that it was in the boy’s best interests but his parents objected.

At the Royal Courts of Justice in London, the boy’s father told Ms Justice Russell that the doctors had no right to “take away the privilege of life” from his son. His mother claimed to have seen the child’s eyes move and believed he would eventually recover, telling the judge that “miracles do happen”.

The lawyer representing the Trust said that the mother’s “deep religious feelings” may have led her to believe that her son could get better. However, based on the medical evidence available, the doctors felt there was “no prospect” of recovery.

Conflict between a parent’s faith and the doctor’s assessment of their child has been brought before the courts many times before. In July, a judge ordered treatment of a child despite his mother’s religious objections.

Ms Justice Russell made the decision to allow the withdrawal of the one year-old’s treatment “with great reluctance”.

She had ruled that the media could not identify the boy or his parents. Additionally, the judge ordered that the Trust must not be named out of concern it could lead to the child’s identification.

The blog team at Stowe is a group of writers based across our family law offices who share their advice on the wellbeing and emotional aspects of divorce or separation from personal experience. As well as pieces from our family law solicitors, guest contributors also regularly contribute to share their knowledge.

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