Fresh tests to be carried out on right-to-life baby, court told

A FRESH medical assessment is to be carried out on a baby boy at the centre of a “right-to-life” legal dispute to decide whether a simple surgical operation could improve his prospects, a British high court judge heard yesterday.

The boy’s father believes that his son, who was born with a rare condition which severely restricts his ability to breath, might be taken off his ventilator and returned home from hospital if surgeons carried out a tracheostomy, which creates an opening in the neck to deliver air to the lungs.

The father is opposing an application by a hospital trust for permission to withdraw the baby’s life support — a move supported by the mother, who is separated from the father.

Baby RB was born with congenital myasthenic syndrome (CMS), a rare neuromuscular condition which severely limits the ability to breathe and move limbs.

Lawyers for the father argue the baby’s brain is unaffected by the condition and that he can see, hear and feel and recognise his parents.

Mr Justice McFarlane is expected to be invited to view video recordings produced by the father to support his case that the boy should be allowed to live.

Michael Mylonas, counsel for the trust, told the judge yesterday that experts said a physician, Dr B, should examine the baby with a view to a tracheostomy.

Because the case was “a matter of life and death”, the trust was anxious not to stand in the way of this last-minute development.

Martin Westgate, for the father, said that if Dr B decided a tracheostomy was a realistic prospect, the whole nature of the case might change.

The mother’s solicitor, Anthony Fairweather, said in a statement to the media:

“RB’s mother has sat by her son’s bedside every day since he was born. Every day she has seen the pain he experiences just to survive.

“In deciding to support this application, she has listened to and consulted with some of the best doctors in the world. Their view has been unanimous.

“In her mind, the intolerable suffering experienced by her son must outweigh her own personal grief.”

The trust said: “Baby RB’s case is a deeply tragic one. However, all those involved in the care of RB are taking these steps because they consider it is in RB’s best interests.”

The hearing was adjourned for the judge to read evidence.

Both parents are in their 20s and said to be “amicably separated”.

"If the trust wins, it would be the first time a British court has ruled against the wishes of a parent whose child does not suffer from brain damage.

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