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Baby op has to go ahead, parents told


19 July, 2007  

A dying baby should be given a bone marrow transplant despite her parents’ refusal to give consent, the High Court ruled yesterday.

The issues in the case of “A”, who cannot be identified, “raised profound issues of parental autonomy”, Mr Justice Holman said.

He said this in giving the unnamed NHS trust the go-ahead for the procedure if it could guarantee a 50% chance of curing her condition. “A” is more than merely a baby” Judge Holman said. “She is a living human being with a future as as well as a present, to whom despite her disease, modern medicine and science may be able to give a full life.”

He said that without treatment for her rare blood disorder haemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis, the seven-month old would probably die within a year. However, her parents argued that they did not want to put their daughter through any more discomfort.

Judge Holman admitted that the treatment for the baby’s condition would be “lengthy painful and distressing” and would probably leave her infertile” but that it also offered a chance to lead a “a very real prospect of a full life, weighed against certain death.”

However, the transplant will only take place if the parents of “A” cooperate and bring her into hospital for treatment. So the parents do have final control but, as Holman added, the parents were law-abiding and he hoped for their objectivity and wisdom.