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Monday, 29 January 2018

Judge asked to let sick man with severe learning disabilities to 'die naturally'

Written by Brian Farmer

Relatives want a sick man with severe learning disabilities to be allowed to "die naturally" even though specialists say he is not near the end of his life and should be fed artificially.

A judge in the specialist Court of Protection, where issues relating to people who lack the mental capacity to make decisions are considered, is expected to rule on the dispute in the near future.

Mrs Justice Parker analysed preliminary issues at a hearing in London on Friday.

She said neither the man, who is in his 50s, nor the hospital trust involved could be identified in media reports although she said restrictions on reporting would be reviewed at any trial.

Barrister Pravin Fernando, who represented hospital bosses responsible for the man's care, said the man had a history of severe learning disabilities and had also suffered a stroke and a heart attack.

Mr Fernando said the man was conscious, in hospital and being artificially fed through a tube inserted into his stomach.

He said doctors wanted the man to be fitted with a different feeding tube.

Specialists did not believe he was "actively dying", the judge was told.

Mr Fernando said the man had limited communication skills but could say "yes" and "no".

But Mr Fernando said the man's relatives believed he should not undergo "further invasive procedures".

They thought he should be allowed to "die naturally".

A number of the man's relatives were at the hearing, which was staged in public.

His sister told the judge that he was not mentally capable of making treatment decisions for himself.

She said all his relatives agreed he should be allowed to die and not "put through" more "very painful procedures".

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