Judge forces family to remove baby from life support
A 17-month-old London boy has died after a judge ruled that the brain-damaged child should be removed from life support. The order went against the wishes of his parents, who wanted to keep him attached to machinery even though the baby had suffered "irreversible brain damage." The NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the the hospital that was caring for the boy, asked the judge to rule in favor of removing the baby from life support because doctors felt it was best for the patient.
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While the decision to end a child's life should ultimately be in the parents' hands, doctors determined that the child's circumstances would never improve. He was born prematurely after an emergency C-section, suffered a 20-minute-long cardiac arrest, had to be resuscitated, and as a result had severe brain damage. He couldn't even breathe on his own and the only thing keeping him alive was the machines.
But it's easy to lay out all the reasons why this child was either never waking up or if he did, would suffer a very poor quality of life dependent on others to survive. At the end of the day, it's not easy to cut the cord on someone you love and I can't imagine how hard it is to be in that position. It's difficult when you have a choice and it must be absolutely heartbreaking when that choice is taken away from you and you're ordered to let go of someone you love. At that point it doesn't even matter if it's for their own good, you're just not ready to say goodbye. It might not be any way to live, but it's also hard to accept that they've already stopped living.
This child spent his entire life in intensive care, but I believe that the family held onto every ounce of hope that he would someday wake up. I would probably feel the same way, too. I have loved ones who've told me their do not resuscitate (DNR) wishes and I hope I'm never in a position where I have to tell doctors to let them die.
Image via Corbis