Sunday 15 December 2019

High Court gives hospital permission to amputate man's leg after family refuse consent

A HOSPITAL was yesterday given High Court permission to amputate a man's leg to save his life because he is unconscious and his relatives have refused to give consent for the operation.

The 59-year-old man, who cannot be named by order of the court, has gangrene of his right leg and doctors say that unless they operate immediately, he could develop complications and die.

His brother and niece have refused to give consent for the amputation while his daughter, who lives in Germany, has said she might be willing to give consent, the court heard.

He presented to the hospital on May 1 and was treated with a number of drugs before doctors decided he required femoral-popliteal bypass surgery which is carried out to bypass blocked fermoral arteries in the leg.

Bernadette Kirby BL, who made the emergency application to the High Court yesterday on a one-side only represented basis, said the patient gave his consent to have the bypass surgery carried out.

But his condition deteriorated and he was brought to the intensive care unit where he remains in an unconscious state, counsel said.

Although he had given his permission for the by-pass surgery, this was no longer an option and his condition continued to deteriorate with the gangrene extending up to his calf, counsel said.

All alternatives had been considered by the doctors who were now of the opinion that his leg should be amputated above the knee, she said.

If they were to wait until he regained consciousness, it would be too late.

A consultant from the hospital, which also cannot be named, told the court they hoped if the gangrene remains dry they would hope to save as much of the leg as possible and leave him with a stump at his knee.

However, he is ill from pneumonia and from the condition of his leg and it is possible the gangrene could become wet and develop a flesh-eating bacteria called necrotizing fasciitis which travels very fast in the body, the doctor said. His blood pressure would drop and he would develop kidney and heart failure, he said.

The operation could be carried out tomorrow morning, the doctor added.

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