Judge to decide if woman left brain damaged and paralysed by Covid-19 should be allowed to die

A ward where the TACTIC-R trial is being carried out is cleaned at Addenbrooke's hospital in Cambridge.  Kirsty Wigglesworth/PA  21-May-2020
The woman is being treated at Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge. Credit: PA

A judge will decide whether a woman left brain damaged and paralysed from the neck down after contracting Covid-19 should be allowed to die.

The woman, who is in her 50s, is being treated at Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge and specialists say her life-support treatment should end, but the woman's children and sister disagree.

Mr Justice Hayden will be considering evidence at an online trial, which is due to end later this week.

The virtual trial is being held in the Court of Protection, a court that deals with cases where there are adults who lack the mental capacity to make decisions.

Mr Justice Hayden, who is based in the Family Division of the High Court in London, said it was the first case of its kind.

He said at the start of the trial: “It is the most extreme example of its kind, and it is the first time in the whole of the pandemic that I have been asked to make an end-of-life decision in relation to Covid-19.

“It is the first time a court has been asked to consider an end-of-life case, as a result of Covid. I suspect therefore it is a case that will attract a lot of public attention.”

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Mr Justice Hayden, who will be hearing from specialists and from the woman’s relatives, said he will consider evidence relating to what the woman would have wanted and medical evidence.

He also ruled that the woman could not be identified in the media.

One specialist told the judge the woman’s family were in “daily torture” and the woman’s case had played out in “just the most horrific way”.

A lawyer representing hospital bosses told Mr Justice Hayden on Tuesday the woman’s case was a unique one.