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When continued treatment is futile and overly burdensome

13th May 2021

In Re KM, Mr Justice Keehan, sitting in the Court of Protection, granted the application of the Trust to withdraw life-sustaining medical treatment in the form of extra-corporeal membrane oxygenation from a 52 year old man who had been fit and well before suffering a pulmonary embolism and heart failure and contracting COVID-19. Emma Sutton represented the applicant Trust and Michael Horne QC represented KM, by his litigation friend, the Official Solicitor.

The evidence of the treating clinicians and expert intensivist was that there was no chance of recovery and that KM was in pain and distress. KM’s family, supported by the family pastor, strongly opposed the application due to their deeply held religious beliefs as Pentecostal Christians that a miracle would happen. The court afforded great weight to their views, and the likely wishes and feelings of KM that treatment should continue, but held that such views were not determinative, and that the withdrawal of life sustaining treatment was in KM’s best interests and would provide him with a dignified death.

Michael Horne QC was instructed by Tracy Hollamby of The Official Solicitor and Emma Sutton was instructed by Victoria Colclough and Ed Pollard of Browne Jacobson. A summary is at [2021] 5 WLUK 89, and the published judgment will follow in due course.

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