July 6, 2022

UK mother asks for daughter’s life support to be withdrawn

Should food and water be removed from unresponsive patients? The cases in the newspapers nearly always feature dramatic conflicts between a flint-hearted medical bureaucracy wanting to pull the plug and tearful relatives desperate to keep them alive.

Should food and water be removed from
unresponsive patients? The cases in the newspapers nearly always feature dramatic
conflicts between a flint-hearted medical bureaucracy wanting to pull the plug
and tearful relatives desperate to keep them alive.

However, there has been a role reversal in
the latest case in the UK, which is being heard in the Court of Protection. A
mother wants to allow her brain-damaged 53-year-old daughter, known only as M,
to die. But a solicitor appointed by the court to defend M’s “best interests” is
opposing it.

M was a healthy woman until she suffered
encephalitis. Initially she was thought to be in a permanent vegetative state.
But now it appears that she is in a state of minimal consciousness. Her mother
says that she can feel pain and discomfort and that she should be allowed to
die. The solicitor is “strongly opposed” and claims that M is showing
“awareness” and is medically stable. There is “no indication that she is
nearing the end of her life”. She should be allowed to live. The hearing is
expected to last ten days.

According to the London Telegraph, about a
thousand patients in a permanent vegetative state are being kept alive in
Britain in the hope that they may some day recover consciousness. ~ London
Telegraph, April 15

Michael Cook
PVS
UK