A church-going brain-damaged woman whose daughters want her life-prolonging treatment to be withdrawn would be “mortified” to find herself “lying helpless” in a hospital bed, a court has heard.
The patient, in her 70s, is said to be in a “minimally conscious state”, and is in receipt of clinically-assisted nutrition and hydration on an acute hospital ward following a fall last year.
The Court of Protection has heard the woman, who can only be identified as Mrs P, will not regain the mental capacity to make decisions about her health and had not given an advance directive – a living will – as to what she wanted if she was ever incapacitated.
The woman’s two daughters and her partner all believe it would not be in Mrs P’s best interests to continue with the treatment and she should be provided with palliative care.
The court has heard Mrs P was “fiercely independent”, very active in her retirement and whose minimal requirement would be the ability to read and converse.
But one of her three sisters said she believed in the sanctity of life and viewed the withdrawal of feeding from her sibling as a form of “legalised killing”.
Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust has applied to the court to continue providing clinical treatment to Mrs P who would be transferred to a nursing home. It submits there is not “sufficient certainty” of Mrs P’s wishes and feelings to prevail over the presumption in favour of preserving life.
On Wednesday, a friend of Mrs P for more than 40 years said: “(Mrs P) was a very proud and discreet person. Lying there helpless, I feel she would be mortified to be just lying there.
“She was just so determined and full of energy. She did so much for the community. I just think for her to live like that, she could not do it. It was not her.”
Two of Mrs P’s grandsons also gave evidence at the hearing in support of withdrawing treatment. Mrs P’s youngest daughter told the court that she would be “horrified” about her present situation.
She said: “She would hate it. The indignity of not being able to move, to go to the toilet, to keep herself clean. “She would refuse almost all physical assistance.
“She couldn’t be seen as weak, frail and unable to do things. That was not who she was.”
The court has heard the life expectancy of patients in Mrs P’s position was, on average, five years if the artificial feed was maintained.
The case was adjourned as Mr Justice Hayden said he would deliver his judgment on a date to be fixed next week.
SOURCE: Press Association