Judge considering whether Covid-stricken woman should be allowed to die

·2-min read

A judge has been asked to decide whether a woman in her 50s who has been left paralysed from the neck down after contracting Covid-19 should be allowed to die.

Lawyers representing bosses at the hospital where the woman, who has four adult children, is being treated have told Mr Justice Hayden that the woman has been left “profoundly neurologically impaired”.

They said specialists thought that life-support treatment should end.

The woman’s children, and sister, disagree and want her to be given “time”.

Mr Justice Hayden, who is based in London, oversaw a preliminary online hearing in the Court of Protection, where judges consider issues relating to people who lack the mental capacity to make decisions, on Wednesday.

He is expected to make a decision in the near future after considering detailed evidence at a trial.

The judge said the woman, who is being treated at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge, could not be identified in media reports of the case.

General view of Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge (Chris Radburn/PA)
General view of Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge (Chris Radburn/PA)

A barrister leading Addenbrooke’s governing trust’s legal team said there was a unique element to the woman’s case.

Sophia Roper said the consequences of Covid-19 had been profoundly damaging and the woman had been left “profoundly neurologically impaired”.

“There are no patients who have the unique combination of pathologies experienced by (the woman),” she said.

“Clinicians think it is not in her best interests for life-sustaining treatment to be continued further.”

Ms Roper said the woman, who has underlying health problems, was paralysed from the neck down and had brain damage.

The judge was told how evidence showed that the woman was in a minimally conscious state and that her condition was “complex”.

He heard that she had been described as being “locked in”.

Mr Justice Hayden said evidence showed that “this virus” had attacked “every single aspect” of the woman’s “function and condition”.

The woman’s children said she would not have wanted to die.

Her sister asked the judge: “Please give my sister time.”

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