Brain-damaged woman not allowed to die

September 29th, 2011 - 10:21 am ICT by IANS  

London, Sep 29 (IANS) Life-support system given to a brain-damaged, minimally-conscious woman should not be withdrawn and she should not be allowed to die, a judge has ruled.

This was probably the first time a judge has been asked to rule on whether life-support should be withdrawn from a person who is not in a persistent vegetative state but is minimally conscious, the Daily Telegraph reported.

Justice Baker, who heard the argument during a Court of Protection hearing in London, described the case as unique. He said it raised “very important issues of principle”.

Relatives wanted life-support system to be withdrawn. They said the 52-year-old woman would not want to live “a life dependent on others”.

But the lawyer appointed by the court to represent the woman opposed the relatives’ application for the system to be withdrawn. He said she is “otherwise clinically stable”.

The local health authority responsible for her care also opposed the relatives’ application and said the woman’s life was “not without positive elements”.

The woman-referred to only as “M”-suffered profound brain damage in 2003 after being diagnosed with viral encephalitis.

She was in coma for several weeks and thought to be in a persistent vegetative state. Doctors later concluded that she was in a “minimally-conscious” state - just above a persistent vegetative state.

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