Appeal judges to hear plight of brain-damaged girl at centre of treatment fight

Brian Farmer, PA
·2-min read

A single mother who wants specialists to keep treating her brain-damaged daughter is taking her fight to the Court of Appeal.

Paula Parfitt, 41, of Strood, Kent, lost the first round earlier this month when a High Court judge ruled that five-year-old Pippa Knight should be allowed to die.

She has asked appeal court judges to overturn Mr Justice Poole’s ruling.

Ms Parfitt said she was devastated by the decision and launched an appeal for money to fund a challenge.

Campaign group the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children says it has agreed to pay for lawyers to represent Ms Parfitt.

A spokesman said a Court of Appeal hearing had been listed for February 9.

“We have been deeply moved by Pippa’s plight, and Paula’s predicament, as this courageous mum does everything humanly possible to protect her daughter and give her the best possible care,” said John Deighan, the society’s deputy chief executive.

“We could not stand by and do nothing.”

Lawyers said Ms Parfitt had been granted legal aid to pay for the High Court fight but her bid for more aid to fund an appeal had failed.

Mr Justice Poole said specialists should keep treating Pippa for a short period to give Ms Parfitt time to organise an appeal.

The judge heard evidence at a trial in the Family Division of the High Court in London in December, and described the case as “heart-rending”.

Paula Parfitt
Paula Parfitt wants to appeal against the latest ruling (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

Pippa was born in April 2015 and initially developed normally, but in December 2016 she became unwell and began to suffer seizures, the judge heard.

Doctors diagnosed acute necrotising encephalopathy.

The judge heard she is now in a vegetative state and has no awareness.

Specialists treating Pippa at Evelina Children’s Hospital in London said life-support treatment should end.

Hospital bosses had asked Mr Justice Poole to rule that ending treatment, and allowing Pippa to die, would be lawful and in her best interests.

Ms Parfitt, who told the court that Pippa’s father was dead, disagreed.

She wants her daughter to be placed on a portable ventilator and allowed home, and wanted the judge to authorise a home-care trial.

Mr Justice Poole ruled against her.