Unconscious man can have leg amputated, court rules
A HOSPITAL was given High Court permission yesterday to amputate an unconscious man's leg in order to save his life after his relatives 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 said that unless they operated immediately, he could develop complications and die.
His brother and niece 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, which also cannot be named by order of the court, on May 1 and was treated with a number of drugs before doctors decided he required femoral-popliteal surgery to bypass blocked fermoral arteries in the leg.
Counsel for the hospital Bernadette Kirby, who made the emergency application to the High Court 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, Ms Kirby said.
Although he had given his permission for the bypass 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 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 told the court they hoped if the gangrene remained 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 necrotising fasciitis, which travels very fast, the doctor said.
His blood pressure would drop and he would develop kidney and heart failure, he said. The operation could be carried out this morning, the doctor added.