Judge to decide if brain-damaged grandma’s life support can be switched off at Addenbrooke’s Hospital after Covid fight

A judge has been asked to decide whether a woman left brain-damaged and paralysed from the neck down after contracting Covid-19 should be allowed to die.

Specialists treating the woman, who is in her 50s, at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge, say life-support treatment should end.

The woman’s children, and sister, disagree and are fighting to keep her alive.

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Her children say they would rather have a “mum that we could look after” than one they could “visit in a graveyard”.

Mr Justice Hayden is overseeing an online trial, due to end later this week, in the Court of Protection, where judges consider evidence relating to adults who lack the mental capacity to make decisions.

The judge who is based in the Family Division of the High Court in London said it was the first case of its kind.

One specialist told him that the woman’s family were in “daily torture” as the woman’s case had played out in “just the most horrific way”.

Barrister Katie Gollop QC, who is representing hospital bosses, told the judge that the woman had gone into hospital on an “emergency basis” late in 2020 and was on a ventilator.

She said the woman was “almost entirely paralysed”, had “severe” cognitive impairment, and told the judge: “There is nothing they can do to make any aspect of her condition better.”

Ms Gollop said specialists thought the woman’s future would be “slanted towards pain and discomfort”.

The Judge said at the start of the trial: “It is the most extreme example of its kind, and it is the first time in the whole of the pandemic that I have been asked to make an end-of-life decision in relation to Covid-19,”

“It is the first time a court has been asked to consider an end-of-life case, as a result of Covid. I suspect therefore it is a case that will attract a lot of public attention.”

The trial continues.

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