Belfast Telegraph

Judge rules against resuscitation

A severely brain-damaged six-year-old boy should not be resuscitated if his condition deteriorates, a judge has said.

The President of the High Court ruled against his parents' wishes and found that ventilating the youngster invasively would prolong his suffering without any long-term benefit.

However Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns commended the concern, love and support the pair demonstrated for their child at all times.

"Their suffering can only be imagined and indeed I have had opportunity of observing their grief during the various occasions when I had hearings and took evidence in this matter," he added.

The child, his parents and the hospital have not been identified in the case.

The judge said the youngster - known only as SR - had been an energetic and bright toddler until a drowning accident when he was 22 months old in 2007, when he became severely brain-damaged.

"He has no prospect of recovery and the medical evidence is both unanimous and un-contradicted that re-ventilation would not be in his best interests," said Mr Justice Kearns, sitting in Dublin.

"It would involve unnecessary pain and discomfort and would be futile. Ultimately it would appear that such treatment would prolong SR's suffering without any long-term benefit to him."

The youngster has been living in a children's home with specialised facilities since January 2008 but regularly needs hospital treatment. He has been hospitalised seven times since the fitting of a jejunostomy tube - which is inserted through the abdomen for food and medication - in November 2010.

The hospital took the legal challenge, requesting a court order that the child not be resuscitated in the event of an acute deterioration requiring invasive treatment if the medical advice is that not resuscitating him would be in his best interests.

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