November 30, 2021

British hospital turned off life support of new-born without parents’ consent

Settlement reached after five years of litigation

Sian Hill and James Towers / Caters News Agency, via The Sun

A British couple has won a court battle with a National Health Service trust over the death of their new-born baby in 2012. They alleged that staff at Darlington Memorial Hospital turned off the child’s life support without consultation with or consent of the parents. Only after their daughter Ivy had died were they able to see her.

Sian Hill, 26, and her partner James Towers, 29, discovered the true story behind the death months later when reading a pathologist’s report. After years of legal wrangling, the NHS agreed to a five-figure sum as a bereavement settlement just before the case was to go to court.

The couple’s baby had an infection and had to be treated immediately after birth.

“We were obviously extremely worried at that stage and I desperately wanted to see Ivy to see how she was doing, but the nurses kept telling me not to worry and that she would be brought back to me once she was breathing properly.

“When we were made aware that Ivy was not responding well to resuscitation and that the life support may need to be switched off both James and I made it very clear to the doctors and nurses that we wanted to see Ivy as soon as possible, and while she was still alive.”

But in the end, nothing happened.

Creative commons
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end of life issues
informed consent