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Mother wants court to stop daughter's 'cruel' artificial feeding


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A mother has brought an application for High Court orders halting the artificial feeding and hydration of her daughter, who is aged in her 20s and has been in a vegetative state for almost 10 years.

The mother believes the feeding/hydration regime is "cruel", contrary to her daughter's dignity and best interests and that, if her daughter could express a view, she would not wish it to continue, High Court president Mr Justice Peter Kelly noted.

If the mother's application is granted, it will lead to the daughter's death and this is a "very sad" and "very serious" case raising important legal, medical and ethical issues.

A hearing date for the application will be fixed later.

The daughter has been in a vegetative state since she suffered a cardiac arrest or arrests when aged 18, arising, it is believed, from an overdose of an illicit substance.

She is in a specialist unit and was made a ward of court last month when Patricia Hickey, the general solicitor for wards of court, was appointed as the committee representing her interests.

The HSE initiated the wardship proceedings because the woman was about to undergo surgery to relieve pressure on her brain, she lacked capacity to consent and an issue arose whether a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) notice should apply if there was any problem with the surgery.

The woman's mother and stepfather favoured a DNR notice but also believed it was not in her best interests for her current treatment to continue.

The mother was unable to attend court for the wardship matter but had indicated she wished to apply for orders ceasing her daughter's current treatment regime.

When the case returned before Mr Justice Kelly this week, he was told by Andrew Fitzpatrick SC, for the mother, she visits her daughter daily and intends to proceed with the application.

Gerard Durcan SC, for Ms Hickey, said she will participate in that hearing with "no agenda of any kind" and will make submissions in line with a best-interests approach.

Mr Justice Kelly said the background to the case was "very sad" and the mother had reached a stage where she believed the peg tube feeding of her daughter had prolonged, not reduced, her pain and suffering.

The mother believes there is no dignity in her daughter's current position and, while appreciating the efforts of the HSE and carers, she does not believe continuing the current treatment regime is in her daughter's best interests.

Irish Independent