A UK judge has ruled that doctors can withdraw life support for a severely disabled 11-month-old boy without the consent of his parents.
Doctors from King’s College Hospital in London argued it was not in baby Isaiah Haastrup’s interest to prolong his life, according to a High Court judgement released Monday.
Isaiah had no audible heartbeat, respiration, activity or muscle tone when he was born, according to an independent expert, Andrew Whitelaw, who provided evidence to the court.
“This is as near death as it is possible to get and still have heart action started by resuscitation. In former times, he would have been declared a stillbirth,” Whitehall said.
Isaiah was born by emergency cesarean section on February 18, 2017, at King’s College Hospital after his mother, Takesha Thomas, experienced a rupture in her uterus.
Isaiah’s mother and father, Lanre Haastrup, had objected to doctors’ advice to turn off Isaiah’s life support. It was not immediately clear if they would take further legal action against the judge’s ruling.
The judgement described a breakdown of trust between the baby’s parents and hospital staff, and claims by the boy’s parents that he was exhibiting signs of responsiveness. The parents held the hospital responsible for Isaiah’s condition and found it hard to accept the same hospital’s advice on their baby’s future, the judgement read.
“It is trite but true to observe that the court cannot imagine the emotional pain that the conclusion of the court will cause to the parents. It is my hope that, in due course, the parents will be able to derive some small measure of comfort from the knowledge that they have done all that they can for their much loved and cherished son to seek an alternative outcome for Isaiah,” the judgement reads.
The case has echoes of the plight of Charlie Gard, who died in July 2017 after a lengthy court battle. His parents had wished to take him to the United States to receive an experimental treatment, but his doctors in the UK argued that it was not in the baby’s best interests.