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Severely disabled baby boy should be allowed to die, judge rules

Published 23/07/2016

Two dissident republican prisoners confined to cells for refusing jailhouse orders have won High Court permission to challenge the adjudication process.
Two dissident republican prisoners confined to cells for refusing jailhouse orders have won High Court permission to challenge the adjudication process.

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 has asked for a ruling on what was in the boy's best interests.

Mr Justice Hayden was told that the little boy suffered from the most severe type of spinal muscular atrophy - a hereditary condition which 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 little boy outweighed any benefit.

The judge was told that the little boy had been put on a ventilator 18 minutes after being born.

He had been in an intensive care unit all his life and doctors said there was no prospect of him moving off intensive care.

The boy's mother and father argued that he experienced pleasure. They said his life had not yet reached the point where it should end.

His mother said he smiled every day and was "amazing" and a "fighter".

Mr Justice Hayden praised the couple's devotion to the little boy. He said they had brought sunshine to their son's life.

But he said evidence showed that pain was a feature of the little boy's day-to-day life.

He said he had to confront not merely the importance of life but also the quality a nd he said the little boy's dignity and autonomy had to be respected.

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