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UK Muslim Patient Denied Right to Life

Published: 08/10/2012 08:18:24 PM GMT
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CAIRO - A British High Court judge gave permission on Monday, October 8, to a hospital trust to withhold life-saving treatment for a severely brain-damaged Muslim patient.“I am persuaded that the balance comes down firmly (more)

CAIRO - A British High Court judge gave permission on Monday, October 8, to a hospital trust to withhold life-saving treatment for a severely brain-damaged Muslim patient.

“I am persuaded that the balance comes down firmly in favor of granting the trust's application,” Justice Moylan said in his ruling cited by The Telegraph.

“Harsh though it will sound, in my judgment to do the opposite would be to prolong Mr L's death not to prolong Mr L's life.”

UK Muslim Patient Fights for Right to Life

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L, a Muslim man from Manchester, suffered a heart attack in mid-July, leaving him with severe brain damage.

He is tube-fed, has a catheter and does not move or respond to verbal command or physical stimulus.

Doctors say the Muslim man is in a persistent vegetative state and that ventilation or resuscitation would not be in his best interest.

But his family reject the doctors' opinion, saying that withholding life-saving treatment goes against his Muslim faith.

“I accept the family's opinion of what Mr L's wishes, feelings and beliefs would be,” the judge said.

“[The trust] submits that the evidence is overwhelming that the potential burdens would outweigh the potential benefits.”

The judge rejected the family's argument that their religion requires everything to be done to prolong life.

“It is the family's collective view that Mr L would want to receive all possible treatment to prolong his life regardless of the likely … consequences. This coincides with their own view and their understanding of what Islam teaches,” he said.

“I cannot accept the argument - to do so would be effectively to substitute the family's views and their assessment of Mr L's likely views for the balancing exercise required by the Mental Capacity Act.

“None of the doctors who have given evidence considered it appropriate,” the judge argued

“…[one doctor] raised concerns that if doctors were required to provide such treatment in cases such as this it would raise questions about the practice of intensive care in the whole country.”

Devastated Family

The judge's ruling came to the shock of the Muslim patient's family.

"They are devastated at the outcome of the hearing and remain of the view that all attempts should be made to prolong L's life, particularly in view of his uncertain prognosis," solicitor Julianne Moore, who represented the family, told the BBC News Online.

She said the hearing had given the family “the opportunity to put across their views in terms of what they believe L would have wanted on the grounds of how he lived his life and, in particular, his religious beliefs.

"They consider that it was inappropriate to place a Do Not Resuscitate order in L's notes without informing or consulting his family and that, in view of the uncertainty in relation to his condition, it was premature to do so."

She said the family also had concerns that "there were failures in the care provided to L whilst a patient at the hospital which may have caused or contributed to his condition" and that she was "advising the family in respect of allegations of medical negligence".

In Islam, euthanasia, which involves the act of ending the life of an individual suffering from a terminal illness or an incurable condition, is forbidden as a major sin.

As for the suspension of medical treatment via preventing the patient from his due medication which is, from a medical perspective, thought to be useless, this is permissible and sometimes it is even recommended.Thus, the physician can do this for the sake of the patient's comfort and the relief of his family.

Reproduced with permission from