July 7, 2022

Minimally conscious British woman must be allowed to live, says judge

A British woman in a “minimally conscious state” should not have her feeding tube removed so that she can die, a judge has ruled in a landmark case. M, a 52-year-old woman, was struck down by viral encephalitis in 2003, and has lived with extensive and irreparable brain damage ever since.

A British woman in a “minimally conscious state” should not have her feeding tube removed so that she can die, a judge has ruled in a landmark case. M, a 52-year-old woman, was struck down by viral encephalitis in 2003, and has lived with extensive and irreparable brain damage ever since.

Her family believes that she would prefer to die rather than linger on in a dependent state. M is unable to communicate consistently; she cannot care for herself and suffers pain, distress and discomfort regularly. After eight years, her condition has not improved.

“I accept that her life has a number of negative aspects, but I also find that it has positive elements,” Mr Justice Baker, of the Court of Protection, declared. “I accept the evidence of the carers, who have far greater experience of living with M in recent years than do members of her family whose visits have become less frequent as time has gone by.”

Most of the carers, he said, believed that treatment should continue. He added: “M does have positive experiences and… although her life is extremely restricted, it is not without pleasures, albeit small ones.” ~ Guardian, Sept 28

Michael Cook
minimal consciousness
UK