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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 September 2018

British judge rules intensive care can be withdrawn from 11-month-old

Specialists at King’s College Hospital say further efforts would be 'futile and not in Isaiah Haastrup’s best interests'

Isaiah Haastrup's mother Takesha Thomas and father Lanre Haastrup outside the High Court in London. Philip Toscano/PA
Isaiah Haastrup's mother Takesha Thomas and father Lanre Haastrup outside the High Court in London. Philip Toscano/PA

A British judge has ruled that intensive care treatment can be withdrawn for a brain-damaged 11-month-old boy despite his parents’ wishes for continued intervention.

Judge Alistair MacDonald said on Monday in Birmingham that doctors can stop providing life support treatment to Isaiah Haastrup. The case had been heard in the Family Division of the High Court in London.

Specialists at King’s College Hospital in the British capital said further intensive treatment would be “futile, burdensome and not in his best interests".

Doctors told the court the boy had suffered “catastrophic” brain damage because of oxygen deprivation at birth.

His parents, Takesha Thomas, and father, Lanre Haastrup, said they want treatment to continue.

Mr Justice MacDonald said: “Examining Isaiah’s best interests from a broad perspective ... I am satisfied that it is not in his best interests for life-sustaining medical treatment to be continued. That, with profound sadness, is my judgment.”

Noting that it was a “grave and difficult case”, the judge recognised that discontinuing the treatment would “lead to Isaiah’s death”. He said the parents’ view on Isaiah’s level of responsiveness was “both understandably and sadly heavily influenced by the flattering voice of hope” but that the medical opinions he had reviewed did not support it.

“I am satisfied on the evidence before the court that Isaiah has no prospect of recovery or improvement given the severe nature of the cerebral atrophy in his brain.” Isaiah would remain “ventilator dependent and without meaningful awareness of his surroundings”.

He concluded: “Having, as I must, Isaiah’s best interests as my paramount consideration, I am entirely satisfied that it is no longer in Isaiah’s best interest to receive life-sustaining treatment.”

The judge praised Isaiah’s parents, saying: “It is trite but true to observe that the court cannot imagine the emotional pain that the conclusion of the court will cause to the parents. It is my hope that, in due course, the parents will be able to derive some small measure of comfort from the knowledge that they have done all that they can for their much-loved and cherished son to seek an alternative outcome for Isaiah.”

Isaiah’s father said after the ruling: “We will be speaking to lawyers to see what they say. Of course one is disappointed.”

He said the King’s College Hospital NHS trust had “harmed” Isaiah at birth. “There have been failings,” he said during the trial. “But for them Isaiah would be at home having a lovely meal with me, with his lovely mum, playing around.”

Doctors told the judge Isaiah had undergone “catastrophic” brain damage due to being deprived of oxygen at birth.

The trust released a statement saying: “This has been an extremely difficult time for Isaiah’s parents and all those involved in his care.

“The court’s decision to transfer Isaiah to palliative care is in his best interests and based on overwhelming expert evidence. Our priority now is to provide Isaiah with the medical care he needs, working closely with and supporting his parents.”

Last year, the parents of another profoundly ill 11-month-old buy, Charlie Gard, took their case to the High Court in an attempt to force Great Ormond Street Hospital to continue treatment of him. Charlie died in a hospice on July 28.

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