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Woman who refused life-saving treatment after losing her 'sparkle' dies

Published 02/12/2015

The woman had been at the centre of litigation in the Court of Protection
The woman had been at the centre of litigation in the Court of Protection

A woman who refused life-saving kidney treatment after saying she had lost her "sparkle" and did not want to grow old has died, lawyers say.

The woman, 50, had been at the centre of litigation in the Court of Protection, where issues relating to sick and vulnerable people are considered.

A solicitor who represents one of the woman's daughters tonight said she had died on Saturday.

Last month a judge had been asked to decide whether the woman had the mental capacity to refuse treatment. Mr Justice MacDonald had concluded that she did after analysing evidence at a hearing in London.

He said many people may be horrified by the woman's thinking. He said the woman's decision to refuse treatment could be characterised as "unwise". He said some might even consider it "immoral".

But he said the woman was the "sovereign" of her "own body and mind", and was "entitled" to make such a decision.

The woman had damaged her kidneys when taking a drug overdose in a failed suicide bid and was refusing dialysis, Mr Justice MacDonald was told.

Specialists had argued she had a ''dysfunction of the mind'' which made her unable to make decisions about treatment.

A hospital trust with responsibility for her care had asked the judge to rule it would be in her best interests if treatment was ''imposed'' and restraint and sedation used if necessary.

But Mr Justice MacDonald dismissed the application.

He said the woman could not be identified but said the London-based King's College Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which asked for a ruling, could be named.

Another judge has ruled that the woman still had to remain anonymous - even though she was dead.

Lawyers representing one of the woman's daughters had asked for her identity to remain secret. That application was opposed by lawyers representing the Daily Mail newspaper.

Mrs Justice Theis ruled that the woman could not be identified after analysing evidence in a late-night telephone hearing.

But she said the issue would be reconsidered in the near future at a further Court of Protection hearing in working hours.

Vikram Sachdeva QC, who represented one of the woman's daughters, told Mrs Justice Theis via telephone that identifying the woman would interfere with her relatives' human rights to private and family life.

He said he had particular concerns about the effect publication of the woman's identity would have on her youngest daughter who was 15.

Adam Wolanski, for the Daily Mail, said any bar on identifying the woman after death was a significant interference with the human right to freedom of expression.

He said evidence of potential harm to family members was "very thin".

Mrs Justice Theis said she had balanced the competing rights and decided that a holding order should be made to protect family members' rights to private life.

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