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Disabled baby to be allowed to die

A three month old baby boy on life support should be allowed to die naturally, a family court has ruled.

The  unnamed mother, who is just 22, burst into tears when the ruling was made. Her son has been dependent on a ventilator since just 18 minutes after his birth due to spinal muscular atrophy, a degenerative and incurable nerve disorder.

Northampton General Hospital NHS Trust applied for a declaration that it would legal to withhold lifesaving treatment against the objections of the baby’s parents. They insisted that their son was “amazing” and a “fighter”.

But doctors at the trust said there was no chance the baby would ever leave intensive care and the continuing efforts to sustain life would serve no purpose.

In the Family Division of the High Court, Mr Justice Hayden concluded that a move from lifesaving to palliative care only (i.e. pain relief) would be in the baby’s best interests.

The Judge praised the parents for their devotion, saying they had brought “sunshine” into their son’s brief life, but he pointed to evidence suggesting the boy suffered from pain and said they had to confront the quality of his life.

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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