Medics can stop providing life-support treatment to an eight-week-old baby as he has no chance of surviving, a top judge has ruled.
Mr Justice Hayden said the boy, who has a severe liver impairment, should instead be given end-of-life care to give him a “dignified” and “comfortable” death.
The child, who cannot be named, has been in intensive care since he was just three days old and cannot breathe without a ventilator.
The application to the court was made after he developed necrotising enterocolitis, a condition where tissues in the intestine become inflamed and start to die.
The High Court judge was told that the boy’s parents were supportive of hospital staff but that ending his current treatment was against their Muslim beliefs.
Bosses at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust have responsibility for the baby’s care and had asked the judge to decide what moves were in his best interests.
They said that the boy could not breathe on his own and would die in pain if allowed to die naturally.
The baby’s parents, who were not represented by lawyers, watched proceedings on a mobile phone from hospital while sitting near their son.
His father addressed the judge and argued that life-support treatment should continue.
Covid-19 restrictions meant that he had not been able to visit hospital when his son was born, he said. He said he had only seen his son in intensive care.
Mr Justice Hayden said the baby’s parents held “profound” Islamic beliefs and that while there was breath there was life, and while there was life there was hope.
He added: “However, the clinical team are satisfied that there is no prospect of (the boy) surviving.
“The challenge is to ensure that his death is as comfortable and as dignified and as free from pain as can practically be achieved.”
He added: “I believe it is in the best interests of (the boy) to stop intensive care to move to palliative care.
“I am satisfied that intensive care is futile.”
Mr Justice Hayden told the baby’s parents he was “so sorry’ during the virtual hearing held in the Family Division of the High Court.
The heartbreaking case echoes the tragic battle by the parents of Alfie Evans, who was at the centre of a similar legal battle in 2018.
The 23-month old, who was being treated at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, suffered from a rare degenerative brain condition.
His brave parents, Kate James and dad Tom, were backed by ‘Alfie’s Army’ as they sought to have the youngster moved overseas for treatment.
They lost their battle after a judge ruled that treatment should be stopped and little Alfie tragically passed away on April 28, 2018.