Friday 23 February 2018

Runaway mother loses court fight to stop radiotherapy on son’s tumour

Brian Farmer

A SEVEN-YEAR-OLD boy can have radiotherapy treatment against his mother's wishes, a High Court judge ruled today.

Sally Roberts, 37, a New Zealander who lives in Brighton, East Sussex, said she feared that radiotherapy would cause long-term harm to her son Neon, and argued that "credible" alternative treatment was available. She had temporarily disappeared last month with her son but returned to face court.

Specialists treating Neon accepted that there were side-effects to radiotherapy but said that without the treatment the youngster could die within a few months.

Mr Justice Bodey, who heard evidence at a hearing in the Family Division of the High Court in London, said radiotherapy treatment could start.

"The mother has been through a terrible time. This sort of thing is every parent's nightmare," said the judge.

"But I am worried that her judgment has gone awry on the question of the seriousness of the threat which Neon faces."

Ms Roberts had told the court she was not a "bonkers mother".

She said she feared that radiotherapy would reduce Neon's intelligence quotient (IQ), shorten his life, put him at risk of having strokes and make him infertile.

And she told the judge that she wanted medics to consider alternatives.

Neon's father Ben, who lives in London and is separated from Ms Roberts, had agreed to radiotherapy but was "apprehensive", the court heard.

A specialist treating Neon had told the court that a team of experts involved in Neon's care had agreed that radiotherapy treatment was in the boy's best interests.

He said doctors wanted to start radiotherapy treatment as soon as possible.

And he suggested that Neon could lead a "good life" after receiving radiotherapy treatment.

Lawyers representing doctors involved in Neon's care told the judge that Ms Roberts was proposing "experimental therapies", which were "unproven", as alternatives to radiotherapy.

Mr Justice Bodey had said he had to balance risk against benefit in deciding whether to allow doctors to use radiotherapy treatment.

"It is a balance between the disadvantages of radiotherapy and the improved prospects of living," he had told lawyers.

"You can only suffer these detriments to your life if you are alive."

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