Parents of baby who tried to breathe after decision he was dead at London hospital lose court case

The baby's parents lost a High Court life support treatment fight on Friday Credit: PA

The parents of a seriously ill baby who started trying to breathe after doctors decided he was dead have lost a High Court life support treatment fight.

Bosses at a London hospital trust responsible for the four-month-old boy’s care became involved in a treatment dispute with his parents earlier this summer and asked a judge to consider the case.

Lawyers representing Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust said tests showed that the boy, who has suffered a serious brain injury and is on a ventilator, was brain stem dead and wanted a declaration of death.

But they subsequently returned to court and told Mr Justice Hayden that a nurse had noticed the boy trying to breathe, more than a week after doctors had carried out brain stem tests and concluded he had died.

“I am so sorry”

Specialists rescinded “the clinical ascertainment of death” and trust bosses asked Mr Justice Hayden to decide instead what moves were in the boy’s best interests.

The judge oversaw a trial in the Family Division of the High Court in London on Thursday and on Friday ruled that ventilation should be withdrawn and only palliative care provided.

He told the boy’s parents: “I am so sorry.”

He said he had to decide what moves were in the baby’s best interests and said evidence showed that the baby was dying.

“It is impossible to escape the conclusion that treatment has failed,” he said in his ruling.

“It protracts death rather than promotes life.”

He added: “Continued ventilation will serve here only to protract death.”

The judge said because of the severity of the baby’s brain injury he had a “complete absence of ability to benefit from treatment”.

Barrister David Lawson, who led the hospital’s legal team, told Mr Justice Hayden that the boy was dying.

Mr Lawson said the boy had suffered a “devastating” brain injury and asked the judge to rule that he should now follow a “palliative care pathway”.

A specialist told the judge nothing could be done to help the boy.

The boy’s parents, Muslims of Bangladeshi origin, viewed his breathing attempts as a miracle and want him to remain on a ventilator.

They indicated that they planned to mount an appeal against Mr Justice Hayden’s decision.

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