Decide guidelines life help might be withdrawn from sick baby after mother and father struggle to take her to Israel

A two-year-old can have her life support withdrawn in her best interests. A judge in the High Court ruled after her parents’ legal battle to bring their sick daughter to Israel.

Alta Fixsler, who suffered a serious brain injury at birth, cannot breathe, eat, or drink without sophisticated medical treatment, doctors say.

The University of Manchester’s NHS Foundation Trust asked the High Court to determine whether it would be in the child’s best interests to discontinue life support and put them on palliative care.

But Alta’s parents, who are Jews, said that their belief means that they cannot agree to steps that would lead to their death.

A lawyer for the couple argued that they should be allowed to take them to a hospital in Israel that had agreed to treat them.

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NHS Trust professionals in charge of her care say evidence shows Alta cannot experience pleasure, but experiences pain and suffering on a daily basis.

During a hearing in the High Court, attorneys said there is “no prospect” that Alta, now two years and four months old, “will ever get better.”

Victoria Butler-Cole QC, representative of Alta’s parents, explained the parents’ position: “They would like her to be treated in Israel by doctors who share her religious beliefs and ethical framework and who have difficulty understanding why the trust is not agrees to this.

“Hospitals in Israel are ready to accept Alta, the risk of transfer is very low and the costs of transporting Alta safely are covered.

“Parents ask for confidence to reconsider their position.”

In a judgment delivered on Friday, Justice MacDonald ruled that “it is in Alta’s best interests that the treatment that is currently sustaining her precious life be withdrawn”.

He said bringing Alta to Israel for treatment to continue would “expose Alta to further pain and discomfort during transfer with no medical benefit if all parties accept that the treatment options now available for Alta offer no prospect of recovery.”

The judge added: “Parents cannot be criticized for making a different choice, dictated by the religious laws that govern their way of life.

“But when I apply the secular legal principles that I must, and with due regard to the deeply rooted religious beliefs of the parents, I cannot agree with their assessment and I am obliged to act accordingly.”

Mr. Justice MacDonald concluded, “It is not in Alta’s best interests to continue life support medical care and … it is in their best interests that a palliative care system be established.”

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He added: “While it is now important to swiftly implement the judgment of the court in light of the findings I have made regarding pain and suffering, some time needs to be allowed for parents to review the judgment of the court so that I hope Alta may benefit from her contribution and presence at the end of her life. “

In a statement released after the ruling, Mat Culverhouse, an attorney with the Irwin Mitchell law firm, who represents Alta and her family, said, “Obviously, Alta’s parents are disappointed with today’s decision.

“They are devastated by the prospect of their treatment being withdrawn and are now considering their options to appeal.

“We will continue to support them during this difficult time.”

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