The parents of a brain-damaged baby who tried to breathe after being diagnosed as dead by doctors have lost the final stage of a life-sustaining treatment battle.
A Supreme Court judge ruled that doctors were lawfully allowed to stop providing treatment after reconsidering evidence during a closed hearing in the Family Division of the Supreme Court in London.
Hospital bosses had asked Mr Justice Poole to decide which steps were in the best interests of the five-month-old boy, who cannot be identified in media reports.
Specialists treating the five-month-old boy said he suffered a “catastrophic” brain injury, had “no prospects” of recovery and would need to be removed from a ventilator and receiving only palliative care.
But the boy’s parents, who are Muslims and of Bangladeshi origin, urged a judge to give him more time to “make progress” or “let Allah intervene” after the boy started breathing.
Justice Poole visited the boy in hospital this week while he oversaw a new trial.
Lawyers representing the bosses of Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, who are responsible for the care of the child, asked the judge to decide what steps would be in the boy’s best interests.
Victoria Butler-Cole KC, who heads the couple’s legal team, told the judge on Tuesday: “If he remains severely disabled … that will continue to be a life of value.”
The boy’s parents wept as they testified on Monday, with his father saying, “Give him more time to recover. Why the rush? Nobody knows what will happen tomorrow.”
Mr Justice Poole has been informed that the parents have been questioned by police after evidence emerged that he suffered “non-accidental injuries” over the summer.
No charges have been filed, but the couple is still under investigation.
The boy’s parents recently lost a Supreme Court battle when another judge, Mr Justice Hayden, decided the treatment should be stopped.
But the appeals court judges ordered a new trial after the boy’s parents upheld the appeal and concluded that they had not had a fair trial.
Mr Justice Poole has reconsidered evidence during a retrial.
Judges have heard the baby was pronounced dead in June after doctors diagnosed him as brainstem dead.
He remained on a ventilator because his parents were not happy with the diagnosis and a lawsuit was filed.
Lawyers representing the trust initially asked a judge to issue a death certificate.
The boy began breathing in early July, after a preliminary Supreme Court hearing.
Specialists subsequently withdrew “the clinical determination of death” and trust attorneys asked Mr Justice Hayden to decide instead what steps were in the boy’s best interests
Judges heard a battery of brainstem tests had shown “no activity.”
The baby had “gasp” and further tests showed there was brainstem activity in one sense.
More to come