Thursday, November 13, 2014

Mother pleads for child to die

A 12-year-old girl has died in hospital after having food and drink withheld - with court permission. It is the first time a child not on life support and not suffering from a terminal illness has legally been caused to die.

Nancy Fitzmaurice was born with hydrocephalus, meningitis and septicaemia. She could not walk, talk, eat or drink. She needed 24-hour hospital care and was fed and watered by tube.

Her mother, Charlotte Fitzmaurice (36), of Ilford, said "Simple things like birds singing and hearing children play would put the most beautiful smile on her face. She loved Michael Buble, and when I slurped my tea she would give out a hearty chuckle." 

Nancy had apparently developed neurological problems and screamed with pain, despite painkillers.

The mother told the High Court "My daughter is no longer my daughter, she is now merely a shell. I truly believe she has endured enough. For me to say that breaks my heart. But I have to say it."

Justice Eleanor King, granting permission for nutrition and hydration to be withheld, said of Nancy "In her own closed world she has had some quality of life. Sadly that is not the case now."  It took 14 days for Nancy to die.

Said Charlotte: "Watching my daughter suffer for days while they cut off her fluids was unbearable. She went in pain. All I wanted was for my daughter to die with dignity with me holding her hand. Although I will live with the guilt forever, I know I have done everything I can for her and she is at peace.

"Although I know it was the right thing to do, I will never forgive myself. It shouldn't have to be a mother's decision to end a child's life. I believe hospitals and parents should be able to decide without mothers or fathers going to court."

Said Dr Andrew Fergusson, of Care Not Killing: "It is never ethical to speed up the process of dying by any intervention which has the primary intention to end life. Weakening laws that protect the sick, disabled and elderly would put vulnerable people at risk."

ASAN, an American charity, said "Euthanasia of people with disabilities is an extremely dangerous and wholly inappropriate solution to inadequate pain management. In cases where painkillers are insufficient, a number of alternatives for pain management exist."

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