Judge To Announce Ventilation Ruling On Charlotte Wyatt's
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
October 13, 2005
PORTSMOUTH, ENGLAND--Next Friday afternoon, Charlotte Wyatt's family will celebrate her second birthday.
That morning, the High Court's Mr. Justice Hedley will deliver a message that could determine whether she will celebrate a third birthday.
On Thursday of this week, Hedley wrapped up two days of testimony regarding Charlotte's condition and a court order he granted one year ago that would allow doctors to refuse to provide life-saving treatment if she stops breathing.
According to various media sources, Charlotte's parents, Darren and Debbie Wyatt, told the court that the girl had "crossed an invisible line" and that the use of artificial ventilation in certain circumstances would be justified. Their attorney, David Wolfe, explained "the overwhelming medical consensus is that there are situations in which it would be appropriate to ventilate her if she needed it".
Charlotte was born three months premature on October 21, 2003. Doctors have insisted that she has serious heart and lung problems, is deaf and blind, makes no movement on her own and feels no sensations except constant pain. They had predicted last October that she would develop a lung infection during the winter and would stop breathing. Mr. Hedley agreed with the hospital that it would be in Charlotte's best interest to leave her to die if she stops breathing on her own.
Charlotte's parents claim that their daughter reaches out to them, tries to talk and sit up, likes to watch her toys, and stays outside for up to 40 minutes at a time.
Mr. Wyatt told the Daily Mail on Wednesday that his daughter had "defied all the odds" and had done everything the doctors said she would never do.
"Charlotte is only in pain now when she's teething, she already has about eight teeth," he added. "She can see and hear and smile and experience pleasure. She loves having a bath and she can focus on people and objects."
A consultant treating Charlotte, identified only as "Dr. K.", told the court she was no longer suffering, that she felt pleasure and had a tolerable quality of life.
Charlotte's case and those of similar children highlight the disagreement between disability rights groups and medical professionals over who should determine the quality of life of people with disabilities and who should decide whether patients -- particularly newborns -- with certain disabilities or medical conditions should die.
"Parents fight to overturn 'no ventilation' order" (The Guardian)