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Hospital can remove life support for brain-damaged baby against parents wishes, UK court rules

(Wikimedia Commons/Fan Yang)King's College Hospital, near Camberwell in southeast London.

A judge in the U.K. has ruled that doctors can withdraw life support for a baby suffering from brain damage despite the parents' decision to continue further intensive treatment for the child.

According to The Guardian, specialists at King's College hospital in London wanted to stop the treatment for 11-month-old Isaiah Haastrup, arguing that it was "futile" and not in his best interests as they believe that he is profoundly disabled but able to feel pain.

Judge Alistair MacDonald of the Family Division of the High Court of England and Wales in Birmingham agreed with the specialists and ruled on Monday that doctors can remove the child from life-supporting treatments and begin palliative care.

"Examining Isaiah's best interests from a broad perspective ... I am satisfied that it is not in his best interests for life-sustaining medical treatment to be continued. That, with profound sadness, is my judgment," MacDonald said in his ruling, as reported by Christian News Network.

"I am satisfied on the evidence before the court that Isaiah has no prospect of recovery or improvement given the severe nature of the cerebral atrophy in his brain," he continued.

Isaiah's mother, Takesha Thomas, and father, Lanre Haastrup, were not present in court when the judge issued the ruling.

Doctors have told the judge that Isaiah is suffering from brain damage caused by lack of oxygen and he is also not able to breathe or move without assistance.

The specialists noted that they believe that Isaiah does not respond to stimulation, but the parents said they believed that the baby responded to his mother's face and touch.

During the hearing last week, Thomas contended that it should be God who should decide when her son dies, not the doctors.

"I am a Pentecostal Christian. For me, I don't think it is right to say who should live or who should die. If God wants to take the person, He will." Thomas said at the time.

Thomas and Haastrup wanted to continue the treatment, hoping that they may bring their son home, but the judge was told that the child may need 24-hour care and life support while at home.

After the ruling, Haastrup expressed disappointment and said that he will consult with lawyers. He also informed the judge that a "negligence case" was underway as he believed that the King's College hospital NHS foundation trust had "harmed" the child at birth.

In a statement, the King's College hospital NHS trust said that the court's decision to allow the hospital to transfer the baby to palliative care is in his "best interests and based on overwhelming expert evidence."

"Our priority now is to provide Isaiah with the medical care he needs, working closely with and supporting his parents," it added.

Supporters of the Haastrup family said that Isaiah's situation is similar to the case of the late infant Charlie Gard, another U.K. baby who also suffered from brain damage caused by a genetic condition. Charlie's parents petitioned the courts to allow them to seek experimental treatments in the U.S., but their request was denied and the baby died in July 2017.

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