PARENTS

Parents Fight Over Disabled Son's Life

02/11/2009 13:24 | Updated 22 May 2015

It's every parent's worst nightmare. Your baby is born with a severe medical condition which means they depend on a ventilator to breathe.

Although there is no cure, your beloved baby could live, but will it be a life worth living? Ultimately it's up to you. At some point you must decide whether to fight for their right to live at all costs, or if it would be kinder to let them go.

A difficult decision for anybody to make, but what if the parents cannot agree?

The High Court is due to hear the heartbreaking case of a child known as Baby RB. He and his family cannot be named for legal reasons.

Baby RB was born last year with a rare neuromuscular condition which means he relies on a ventilator to survive. His doting parents have been with him since his birth, although they have had an amicable separation from one another.

Whilst both parents clearly adore their son, they have different opinions on what would be the best course of action for him.

The mother supports the hospital's judgment that as Baby RB cannot move or breathe on his own, his quality of life would be so poor that the kindest option would be to withdraw treatment and allow him to die.

However the father argues that his son is able to see, hear and recognise his parents. He also plays with toys and enjoys listening to books and stories. Whilst he will never recover from his disability, further treatment would enable him to be cared for at home.

The court has ordered a fresh medical assessment to confirm the father's assertions.

The High Court has ruled on similar cases in the past where the parents of a severely disabled child have disagreed with the hospital's decision to cease treatment, but it is rare for the parents to be fighting each other over the life of their child. If the court rules in favour of the mother and the hospital, it will be the first time it has gone against the wishes of a parent where the child does not have brain damage.

Whatever the court decides, one of Baby RB's parents will have to accept an outcome they desperately did not want. Either having their child's life ended against their wishes or watching as their son struggles through life trapped in his own body.

Which parent is right, and what would your choice be if you were in this tragic situation?

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