In a desperately sad case, a gravely ill baby boy has been allowed to ‘slip away’ in hospital after a family judge ruled that it was in his best interests to be freed from a life of pain and granted medics permission to switch off his life support.
The boy was born very prematurely after his sex-worker mother carried on drinking alcohol and taking heroin during her pregnancy. He was delivered with severe heart and lung problems and, although medical professionals had done all in their power to save him, his condition had declined to the point of hopelessness.
On the basis of unanimous medical evidence that the boy was suffering and was unlikely to survive for long, the judge ruled that he should be permitted to die with dignity. It was clear that he had ‘no quality of life’ and that his existence consisted of ‘virtually no pleasure, merely pain and suffering’.
After being informed that the boy had died peacefully the day after he gave his ruling, the judge said, “I am pleased that he slipped away without suffering further distress and that he was not agitated at the time. At the very least, he deserved to end his short life with comfort, dignity and no distress’.