In re Gard (A Child) (Child on Life Support: Withdrawal of Treatment) – WLR Daily

Posted June 15th, 2017 in appeals, children, law reports, medical treatment by sally

In re Gard (A Child) (Child on Life Support: Withdrawal of Treatment)[2017] EWCA Civ 410

‘C, a child aged nine months, suffered from a rare inherited mitochondrial disease which led to dysfunction of several of his organ systems. His condition had progressed since his birth resulting in irreversible brain damage and an inability to move his arms or legs or to breathe unaided. His life expectancy was measured in months. His parents sought to obtain an alternative treatment, known as nucleoside therapy, that was available in the United States of America. The NHS trust which ran the hospital where C was treated applied pursuant to the inherent jurisdiction of the court for declarations that it was lawful and in C’s best interests for his artificial ventilation to be withdrawn, for his treating clinicians to provide him with palliative care only, and for him not to undergo nucleoside therapy. The judge granted the application and made the declarations sought, finding that the body of experienced medical opinion available to him, save for the doctor offering the nucleoside therapy, was unanimous to the effect that the prospect of nucleoside therapy having any benefit was effectively zero and would be futile. C’s parents sought permission to appeal on the grounds that (i) where parents put forward a viable treatment option for their child, that option could only be overriden by the court if it was established that the pursuit of that option was likely to cause the child to suffer “significant harm”, and the usual “best interests” test did not apply; and (ii) the judge had no jurisdiction to grant an order on the application of one clinical team preventing a second clinical team from carrying out a treatment that the latter had offered in the reasonable exercise of its professional judgment.’

WLR Daily, 24th May 2017