Parents of baby who tried to breathe after being declared dead at London hospital seek ‘more time’

The case is being heard at the High Court in London Credit: PA

The parents of a baby boy who tried to breathe after doctors said he was dead have urged a High Court judge to give him “more time” on life support.

Specialists treating the five-month-old say he has suffered a “catastrophic” brain injury and has “no prospect” of recovering.

They say he should be removed from a ventilator and given only palliative care.

But a barrister leading the couple’s legal team on Monday told Mr Justice Poole that clinicians had already made a "most profound mistake".

Victoria Butler-Cole KC argued that the boy should be given "more time".

The boy’s parents, who are Muslims and of Bangladeshi origin, recently lost a High Court fight when another judge, Mr Justice Hayden, decided that treatment should end.

But Court of Appeal judges ordered a fresh trial after upholding an appeal by the boy’s parents and concluding they had not had a fair hearing.

Mr Justice Poole is reconsidering evidence at a new trial in the Family Division of the High Court in London.

Lawyers representing bosses at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, who are responsible for his care, have asked Mr Justice Poole to decide what moves are in the boy’s best interests.

Parents' barrister describes 'profound mistake'

“In the history of (the boy’s) brief life, he has already been wrongly declared dead by his treating clinicians,” Ms Butler-Cole told Mr Justice Poole in a written position statement.

“There have been changes in his ability to take spontaneous breaths; his heart rate and blood pressure have stabilised; his ventilator pressures have reduced.”

Ms Butler-Cole added: “Whilst explanations suggested for these changes have been provided, the parents emphasise that these are working hypotheses, rather than certainties, and that clinicians have already made a most profound mistake in diagnosing (his) condition and prognosis.”

She went on: “If all life-sustaining treatment is withdrawn from (him) at this time, he will lose any chance he has to improve, or for new treatments to be made available to him which might have a chance of improving his condition.

“Where the proposed course of action is both final and dire, his parents consider that it is in (his) best interests to give him more time to make progress, or for Allah to intervene.”

Timeline of how events unfolded in the life-support treatment case

June: Judges hear how doctors diagnosed the two-month-old baby as brain-stem dead but he remained on a ventilator because his parents were unhappy with the diagnosis.

July: The boy starts trying to breathe in early July, after a preliminary High Court hearing. Specialists then rescind “the clinical ascertainment of death” and trust lawyers asked Mr Justice Hayden to instead decide what moves are in the boy’s best interests.

August: A senior doctor tells a High Court judge she did not know of other cases in which a seriously ill baby started trying to breathe after being declared dead by medics

A judge is told a fatwa has been issued, though not addressed to any specific person.

The parents lose their court case.

September: The baby's parents win the right to appeal against the verdict.

They are interviewed by police after evidence suggested the boy had suffered what “appeared” to be “non-accidental injuries”. No charges had been brought, but the couple remain under investigation.

Mr Justice Poole tells the court on Monday that nothing had been proved in relation to the parents being questioned and hearing that police involvement in the case would not affect his decision.

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