Thursday 23 October 2014

Baby to be taken off life support following court order

Published 16/01/2014 | 02:30

Life-support treatment was withdrawn from the severely brain-damaged newborn baby
Life-support treatment was withdrawn from the severely brain-damaged newborn baby

A maternity hospital has secured a High Court order allowing it to withdraw life-support treatment from a severely brain-damaged newborn baby whose young mother died shortly after delivering him.

The mother was 39 weeks pregnant and in cardiac arrest when she arrived at the hospital by ambulance on Tuesday afternoon.

She required extensive resuscitation, the President of the High Court Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns was told at a late night sitting.

The baby boy was delivered by an emergency caesarean section procedure and the mother was then transferred to the intensive care unit in another hospital, the judge heard.

Her condition was critical and a decision to withdraw medical treatment from her was made. She died shortly afterwards.

The baby weighed 3.9kg when born and he had no respiratory activity; he needed artificial ventilation to stabilise him and was placed on a ventilator and heart support.

The court heard that the little boy is suffering from severe brain damage and is being administered morphine as doctors believe he is suffering pain.

The court heard doctors believe the baby has only a 10pc chance of surviving longer than 28 days and, if he does do so, he will be severely and profoundly physically and mentally disabled, unable to move or swallow, requiring lifelong care. Doctors also believe that keeping the child on a ventilator would prolong his suffering when his prognosis was very poor.

It was considered that it was in the child's best interests to cease the treatment.

This was one of the worst cases to have been admitted to the intensive care unit of the hospital in the last five years, it was also stated.

Because the baby's parents are not married and the baby's mother was his sole legal guardian, the hospital needed a court order to withdraw life-sustaining treatment, Eileen Barrington, counsel for the hospital, said.

Both parents were Irish, counsel added.

SYMPATHY

Ms Barrington said the child's mother had named her own mother as her next of kin on hospital forms.

Doctors had explained the situation to the grandmother and the child's father and both were consenting to the life-sustaining treatment being withdrawn, she said.

The father had named the baby, Ms Barrington added.

Mr Justice Kearns said it was a very sad case and he expressed his sympathy to the baby's father and grandmother.

The grandmother had also lost her daughter in this situation, the judge observed.

On the basis of the evidence and the law, the judge said he would accede to the hospital's application.

 

Tim Healy

Irish Independent

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