Doctors may cease treatment of a terminally ill teenager, the Court of Protection has ruled.
An unnamed NHS Trust living in the south of England made an emergency application on Friday last week, seeking the legal right to end treatment of the 18 year-old, who is suffering from a brain tumour. A hearing was held the same day, and this ran from 4pm right through until midnight The Telegraph reports.
Doctors treating the boy said he no more than a couple of weeks to live and argued that further treatment would be “futile” and not in his best interests. He should be allowed to die with dignity, they declared. He was unable to walk or talk and repeatedly falling into a coma.
The Trust’s application was opposed by both the boy’s parents. The mother took part in the hearing from the hospital via telephone, urging Court of Protection Judge Mrs Justice Hogg not to support the Trust’s application. Her son was a “miracle child” and “absolutely adored”, she insisted, becoming emotional on a number of occasions.
“I am fighting for my child’s life. He is a sick child but he is coping. [He] is not dying.”
“We may be lucky and he will live a few months or a miracle will happen. You just have to believe he will pull through.”
She argued with doctors giving evidence, saying they just wanted to “get it over and done with”.
The Judge allowed a break in the proceedings at one point so the mother could go to her son’s bedside.
His father had planned to attend the hearing in person but returned to his son’s hospital room after hearing that his condition had deteriorated.
Nevertheless, the Judge ruled in favour of the Trust in a case she called “tragic”. She said she understood how difficult the situation was for the parents, and noted their determination.
But after analysing the medical evidence in detail, she declared that the Trust could indeed cease chemotherapy and other treatments and not resuscitate the teenager.
The boy had been diagnosed with a brain tumour at the age of one and it had left him blind but he had managed to lead an active life until his cancer began to spread. The Judge praised his “resilience and courage” as well as the mother’s determination to fight for her son.
The Court of Protection is a branch of the High Court which makes rulings on behalf of those unable to make their own decisions due to illness or disability.
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