February 29, 2024

Parents fight hospital to keep their infant alive

The British parents of a seriously ill infant girl have won the right to challenge a hospital’s plans not to resuscitate her if she requires a ventilator. Eleven-month-old Charlotte Wyatt was born three months premature with serious heart and lung problems and doctors believe that she will not survive beyond infancy because her lungs are so severely damaged. She has never been able to leave the hospital. Nonetheless, her parents believe that she can pull through and that future medical advances could extend her life expectancy. But St Marys Hospital, in Portsmouth, believes that it is not in her best interest to be re-ventilated if her condition deteriorates.

Under British law, hospitals are not obliged to agree if parents ask for more medical treatment than they believe is warranted. In this case, the hospital is determined to ignore the wishes of the Wyatts. According to the minutes of a meeting between doctors and the Wyatts, “The [Portsmouth Hospitals NHS] trust would be prepared to go to the courts rather than send Charlotte to the intensive care unit. From past experience the court would agree with the doctors as they would feel that doctors cannot be forced to treat a child in a way they believe to be against the child’s best interests — despite the wishes of the parents.”