Muslim parents lose child treatment appeal

Family Law|November 26th 2015

The “devout Muslim” parents of an 11 year-old boy have failed in their legal bid to appeal the withdrawal of his medical treatment.

Prior falling ill, the boy was “a keen footballer” who also enjoyed drama. He was scheduled to begin secondary school in September but contracted a virus during the summer which “attacked and compromised his heart functioning”.

While in hospital, the boy underwent “many surgical procedures requiring anaesthesia” and nurses noticed he was in a lot of pain and discomfort. This was made worse each time they treated him, and did not improve his overall condition. The nursing staff reported that they felt “cruel” administering such treatment because it was “not humane”.

Doctors agreed that the combination of the boy’s pain and the fact that he was very unlikely to recover meant “it was in his best interests to withdraw life sustaining treatment”. The local NHS Trust then successfully applied to the High Court for permission to stop treating him.

His parents did not accept this ruling and sought permission to challenge it in the Court of Appeal. They claimed that the initial judge “made an error in weighing up the benefits and burdens” of further treatment.

However, Lord Justice Jackson ruled that the boy was “beyond medical help” and that treating him would “cause him intolerable suffering to no useful purpose”. He therefore believed that the original judge’s decision was in the child’s best interests.

Lady Justice Black and Lady Justice King agreed with his assessment. Black LJ said that “an appeal could not succeed” and Kind LJ added that the initial decision “cannot be said to be wrong”. Therefore, the parents’ permission to appeal was refused.

To read I (A Child), click here.

Photo by Boyd via Flickr

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