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UK Muslim Wins Temporary Right to Live

Published: 24/08/2012 12:19:14 PM GMT
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CAIRO - In a shocking development, the family of a Muslim man in an apparently vegetative state have produced video evidence showing he can still move his eyes and mouth after doctors' advice to leave him die.Dr Peter Newm (more)

CAIRO - In a shocking development, the family of a Muslim man in an apparently vegetative state have produced video evidence showing he can still move his eyes and mouth after doctors' advice to leave him die.

Dr Peter Newman witnessed footage that showed a “closing of eyes and grimacing” when L's eyes were cleaned,” Jenni Richards QC, for the family, told the Telegraph reported.

“On the basis of what he had seen on the video footage, Dr Newman's view, shared with all the parties, was that Mr L was no longer in a persistent vegetative state,” he added.

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

Relatives of the 55-year-old pleaded with doctors to keep him alive in the hope that Allah would make him better.

After objections from the Muslim family, doctors removed the notice.

Yet, Pennine Acute Hospitals Trust applied to the Court of Protection for an order that it would not be in L's best interests to resuscitate him or put him on a ventilator if his condition worsens.

A surprise then occurred when the family filmed Mr. L grimacing and closing his eyes, which convinced Dr Newman that his condition had improved.

The expert now believed the patient was "most likely in a minimally conscious state", and the family believe further improvement may yet take place which may even lead to “verbal communication,” Richards QC added.

The Court of Protection case has now been adjourned until October 1st for fresh evidence to be considered.

NHS Trust has been ordered to ensure that the patient, known only as L, is resuscitated should his health deteriorate.

Claire Watson, appearing for the Trust, accepted that "clearly there has been a change in the diagnosis" but said it may not yet alter the care plan set out for the patient.


Avoiding a disaster of withholding a life-saving treatment for Mr. L, the case shows a controversial issue that popped up recently as hospitals applied to courts to withhold or withdraw treatment from patients.

“The family feel vindicated in contesting the Trust's application, but even more importantly they are relieved that medically L is not in a vegetative state and there is hope of recovery,” Helen Lewis, clinical negligence solicitor with Pannone, said.

“It is certainly a sobering thought that the Trust would have put in place a ‘Do not resuscitate' order if the family had not have challenged their stance through the legal system,” she added.

In recent weeks, hospitals have gone to court to withhold or withdraw treatment from patients, in the face of opposition from religious relatives, in at least three cases.

In one case, a judge ruled that a baby left comatose after a “catastrophic accident” could have his ventilator switched off by doctors, despite his parents' belief that “where there's life there's hope”.

Another judge agreed that medics could remove life-support from an eight-year-old boy, again after his devout Christian family's pleas for him to be kept alive in case of a miracle.

Medics complain that the views of relatives are causing concern, with Great Ormond Street experts claiming that parents who believe in divine intervention are putting children through aggressive but futile treatments.

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