Judge rules that boy’s life-support unit can be switched off without parental consent
A Judge ruled on Friday 10 August that doctors can switch off a young boy’s life-support system even though his Christian parents wanted him to be kept alive as they still had hope of his recovery.
The Judge agreed to the hospital’s request to withdraw life-sustaining treatment after he was told by doctors that further interventions would, in their opinion, be futile. The Judge was also told that there was a risk of infection.
The boy’s family however argued that he was still conscious and that there was hope that he would recover.
The case was heard in the family division of the High Court, which has the power to decide on the “best interests” of people deemed to lack the capacity to say if they want medical treatment or not.
The boy had struggled with ongoing health problems yet was able to live a normal life until his health deteriorated after surgery in June to remove an artery band. After a month on a life-support machine, doctors saw no improvement in his condition.
After doctors decided that treatment should be withdrawn from the boy, the parents refused consent and instructed lawyers to challenge the move in Court.
The boy’s mother said that, although she accepted the medical evidence, she believed her son was still aware of her when she came into the ward, and that the family had not lost hope. She said:
“Unexpected things can happen and because of [the boy’s] faith and my trust in God and my understanding that he is the one who gave him life he is the one alone who can end that life, I cannot agree to the lifeline of oxygen being taken away from him. God could intervene in a miraculous way.”
Her husband said: “Our children have expressed the concern that if we give consent for their little brother to be taken off the Ecmo [life support machine], how do they know that we wouldn’t do something similar to them.”