CAIRO- The family of an elderly-Muslim patient have lost their appeal to keep their minimally conscious patient alive, after a court decided no resuscitation needed for him.
To prolong the patient's life would "effectively be restarting a life which has stopped,” Justice Hayden, the judge at the court of protection in London, was quoted as saying in the court, The Guardian reported.
The problem of the 72-year-old Muslim patient, who is brain-damaged and in a barely conscious state, started when the family complained against National Health Service (NHS) trust's application which suggests it wasn't in the patient's favor to be given 'intensive resuscitation' or 'intensive care' if his status retreated.
For 10 years, VT had endured the after-effects of a stroke as well as diabetes, high blood pressure and kidney disease.
He used to be able to walk a few steps with a frame but was housebound and needed help from his family with all aspects of daily living.
Few months ago, VT's condition has deteriorated when he suffered a cardiac arrest after a bout of pneumonia.
Before arriving to the hospital VT's eldest son gave him CPR, at the hospital the family was consulted about DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) order.
The family said that their patient, known as VT, would regard his suffering as bringing him closer to God and claimed his death “must be for Allah alone to decide”.
Yet, the judge said the Trust could withhold treatment.
"It is obvious it has not been in any way burdensome to them. To my mind they have regarded it as a privilege and an opportunity to show how their father is loved by the whole family,” Justice Hayden said.
“I have no doubt that over the last decade, the family have enabled the father to live a rich and happy life despite his circumstances.”
VT's case is not the first.
Last year a Muslim man in UK has won a right-to-life case after his family produced video evidence showing he can still move his eyes and mouth after doctors’ advice to leave him die.
Doctors said the Muslim man was in a persistent vegetative state and that ventilation or resuscitation would not be in his best interest.
Relatives of the 55-year-old pleaded with doctors to keep him alive in the hope that Allah would make him better.
After objections from the Muslim family, doctors removed the notice.
The patient’s family objected to the court decision as ignoring their religious believes.
It would have "major repercussions for people of faith throughout the country,” Zak Golombeck, the family's solicitor from law firm Pannone was quoted by the Guardian After the ruling.
“The judge accepted the deeply held religious beliefs of VT and his family, but held that in spite of these beliefs the opinions of the clinicians regarding VT's best interests should take precedence.
“It is for this reason we are carefully considering the judgment and will be advising our client as to any potential appeal.”
Challenging family's appeal, the judge argued that admitting VT to intensive care would be entirely 'futile' and a bid of restarting life.
"It would not be prolonging life. It would effectively be restarting a life which has stopped,” he said.
"I hope that when death comes for him, whenever that may be, it will come peacefully, and he will be with his family,” the judge stated.
He added that the family was risking VT’s further suffering in a bid to preserve his life.
"It would be quite extraordinary if his family were misrepresenting the father's view. They have showered him with love and care for 10 years, showing a loyalty which is, in my view, inspiring,” the judge said.
"His right to, if necessary, suffer for his faith, has not always been understood and has at times been unwittingly denigrated.
"Their actions are not unkind if they truly represent VT's own wishes, as I believe they do. Indeed, in an increasingly secular society, it takes great courage to assert strong religious belief."
Last year, many UK hospitals have gone to court to withhold or withdraw treatment from patients, in the face of opposition from religious relatives, in at least three cases.
In one case, a judge ruled that a baby left comatose after a “catastrophic accident” could have his ventilator switched off by doctors, despite his parents’ belief that “where there’s life there’s hope”.
Another judge agreed that medics could remove life-support from an eight-year-old boy, again after his devout Christian family’s pleas for him to be kept alive in case of a miracle.
Medics complain that the views of relatives are causing concern, with Great Ormond Street experts claiming that parents who believe in divine intervention are putting children through aggressive but futile treatments.
In Islam, euthanasia, which involves the act of ending the life of an individual suffering from a terminal illness or an incurable condition, is forbidden as a major sin.
As for the suspension of medical treatment via preventing the patient from his due medication which is, from a medical perspective, thought to be useless, this is permissible and sometimes it is even recommended.
Thus, the physician can do this for the sake of the patient’s comfort and the relief of his family.
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