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Claire Watson represents NHS Trust in application to withdraw artificial hydration from a child with brain damage

28th October 2014

Claire Watson appeared on behalf of an NHS Trust in an unusual application to withdraw artificial hydration from a child who, although suffering from a brain malformation and global developmental delay, was otherwise cardiovascularly stable and was not actively dying.  Despite exceeding all expectations as far as her prognosis was concerned, the child had suffered from a recent significant deterioration and had developed persistent enteral feed intolerance causing such pain and distress for the child that she would scream for significant periods of time.  As the child was becoming tolerant to the high doses of analgesia being administered and was considered to be in intolerable pain, particularly when artificially fed, the child’s family, the Trust ethics committee and the treating clinicians reached a consensus that the continued administration of artificial hydration and nutrition was not in the child’s best interests.   An application was made to the High Court and a declaration was made that it was lawful and in the child’s best interests to withdraw and withhold this life sustaining treatment.


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