Judge rules South Yorkshire man in intensive care should be allowed to die

A judge has ruled that a seriously ill South Yorkshire man in intensive care should be allowed to die.
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The man, in his 30s, made a written ‘advanced decision’ that he would not want to live with a stoma if needed after bowel surgery.

He has a history of bowel problems and is sedated in a hospital intensive care unit after major surgery.

Barnsley HospitalBarnsley Hospital
Barnsley Hospital
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Specialists say he has a 60 to 70 per cent chance of surviving but will need a permanent stoma - a surgical opening on the abdomen though which urine or faeces can be diverted out of the body.

Bosses at Barnsley Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, who have responsibility for his care, asked the Court of Protection to decide what was in the man's best interests.

They said a decision needed to be made because it would be some time before the man, referred to as MSP, regained the capacity to make a decision for himself.

The man's parents said his wishes should be respected.

Mr Justice Hayden considered evidence on Monday and announced his ruling yesterday.

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The judge said medics could lawfully stop providing nutrition and hydration by artificial means to the man and move him to a palliative care regime.

Mr Justice Hayden said many people live ‘perfectly full lives’ with a stoma, but the man had delivered a ‘consistent’ message about his wishes.

“There is powerful evidence that as a young man in his 30s, MSP could never accept life with a stoma,” he said.

“No amount of support, love or understanding could change MSP's mind.

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“There is no doubt in my mind that he had come to a clear and entirely settled decision that he was not prepared to contemplate life with a stoma.”

The judge said the man had endured a ‘decade of serious ill health’ and had a ‘desperately reduced’ quality of life.

“He has made a practical, utilitarian calculation that life in these circumstances is not what he wants,” he added.

“In a real sense this is not a case about choosing to die, it is about an adult's capacity to shape and control the end of his life.”