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Severely disabled baby should be allowed to die, judge rules

The Guardian

 23 July 2016

Press Association

Three-and-a-half-month-old boy’s parents had objected to hospital’s request to withdraw life-sustaining treatment

The family division of the high court in LondonMr Justice Hayden made his decision after a hearing in the family division of the high court in London. Photograph: Alamy

A severely disabled baby who has been on a ventilator since he was 18 minutes old should be allowed to die, a high court judge has ruled.

Hospital bosses had asked for permission to withdraw life-sustaining treatment. The three-and-a-half-month-old boy’s parents had objected.

Mr Justice Hayden concluded that a move to a palliative care regime was in the baby’s best interests. He made his decision late on Friday after analysing evidence at a hearing in the family division of the high court in London.

The baby’s 22-year-old mother wept as the judge announced his conclusion. Mr Justice Hayden said neither the baby nor his parents could be named.

Bosses at the Northampton General hospital NHS trust had asked for a ruling on what was in the baby’s best interests. Mr Justice Hayden was told that the baby suffered from the most severe type of spinal muscular atrophy – a hereditary condition that affects nerve cells connecting muscles to the brain and spinal cord.

Specialists said the condition was degenerative and incurable. They said the burden of the treatment placed on the baby outweighed any benefit.

The judge was told that the baby had been put on a ventilator 18 minutes after being born. He has been in an intensive care unit all his life and doctors said there was no prospect of him moving off intensive care.