Couple fighting to keep disabled baby alive lose High Court fight

A couple who want doctors to keep treating their severely disabled baby son have lost a High Court fight.

Specialists said the two-month-old boy was suffering near-continuous seizures and should be allowed to die.

They said he had a very severe brain abnormality, was in a ‘poor condition’, and should get palliative care only.

But his mother said he responded to her and to his father.

She wanted him to be given help with breathing, wanted resuscitation attempts to be made if necessary, and wanted drugs tried.

A judge has ruled that prolonging treatment is futile.

Ms Justice Russell had analysed evidence at a hearing in the Family Division of the High Court in London earlier this month and has given her decision in a written ruling.

The boy is being cared for at a hospital in the north of England.

Doctors had told the judge that the boy weighed 3.5 kilograms – about seven-and-a-half pounds.

They said he suffered near-continuous seizures which were resistant to treatment.

One told Ms Justice Russell the child had a low level of awareness but could feel pain and had been seen to grimace.

Specialists said the burdens of treatment outweighed the benefits.

But the boy’s mother had begged Ms Justice Russell not to allow doctors to stop providing life-support treatment.

She said her son should have ‘every chance he can’, and added: ‘I know he has only got a short life but I just want everything to be tried.’

Ms Justice Russell said it was understandable that the baby’s parents wanted doctors to continue treatment in an attempt to extend his life.

But the judge said she had to be objective and consider the boy’s best interests.

‘This is a baby who has already suffered a great deal,’ she said in her ruling.

‘I have endeavoured to consider (the boy’s) situation from his perspective in as much as it is possible for any court to do so.

‘The conclusion that I have reached is that it is in (his) best interests for the court to make the declarations sought by the NHS trust because the intervention and invasive treatments which his parents seek confer no real benefit and subject him to continuous, and ultimately futile, pain, suffering and distress.’

She added: ‘It follows that it is lawful for the treatments to be withheld.’