NEWS

Girl With Cancer Cryogenically Frozen Wrote Heartbreaking Letter To 'Hero' Judge Begging To Live Longer

The 14-year-old hopes that one day a cure for her condition will be found.

18/11/2016 08:03 | Updated 18 November 2016

A 14-year-old girl with terminal cancer who was granted her wish of being cryogenically frozen wrote a heartbreaking letter to the “hero” judge days before she died in which she says she wants to be given a “chance” and doesn’t “want to be buried underground”.

The teenager, who lived in London, had asked a High Court judge to rule that her mother - who supported her wish to be cryogenically preserved - should be the only person allowed to make decisions about the disposal of her body.

The girl, who cannot be named, took legal action after her parents disagreed whether her remains should be taken to a specialist facility in the United States and cryogenically preserved.

Mr Justice Peter Jackson had made the ruling she wanted in October - following a private hearing in the Family Division of the High Court in London - and lawyers say her remains have now been taken to the USA and frozen.

The judge had said that nothing about the case could be reported while the teenager was alive, after she said media coverage would distress her.

The girl was too ill to attend the the court hearing.

The teenager had been represented by lawyers and had written to the judge explaining that she wanted a chance to “live longer”.

“I have been asked to explain why I want this unusual thing done. I’m only 14 years old and I don’t want to die, but I know I am going to.

“I think being cryo‐preserved gives me a chance to be cured and woken up, even in hundreds of years’ time.

“I don’t want to be buried underground.

“I want to live and live longer and I think that in the future they might find a cure for my cancer and wake me up.

“I want to have this chance. This is my wish.” 

Following the ruling the judge visited the girl in hospital. The girl referred to the judge as “Mr Hero Peter Jackson”, her lawyer said.

The judge said he had been moved by the “valiant way” in which she had faced her “predicament”.

He said the girl’s application was the only one of its kind to have come before a court in England and Wales - and probably anywhere else, the Press Association reports.

Mr Justice Jackson said the relationship between the girl’s parents was “very bad”.

He said the girl had lived with her mother for most of her life and she had not had “face-to-face” contact with her father for eight years at the time of her death.

The judge said she had refused to have contact with her father, had not wanted him to have detail of her illness and had not wanted him to see her body after she died.

Her father had been concerned about consequences of his daughter being cryogenically preserved, and had been concerned about the costs involved.

Reuters Photographer / Reuters
Dr Jerry Lemler, president and CEO of Alcor Life Extension Foundation, one of only two places in the US to cryogenically preserve bodies.

“Even if the treatment is successful and she is brought back to life in, let’s say, 200 years, she may not find any relative and she might not remember things,” he had told Mr Justice Jackson.

“She may be left in a desperate situation - given that she is still only 14-years-old - and will be in the United States of America.”

But during the litigation his position had changed and he later added: “I respect the decisions she is making. This is the last and only thing she has asked from me.”

Mr Justice Jackson said the man’s fluctuation was understandable.

The judge said the case was an example of new questions science posed to lawyers.

He said he had made decisions relating to a dispute between parents - not about the rights and wrongs of cryogenic preservation.

The judge said the teenager had carried out internet research into cryonics during the last months of her life.

He said there was no doubt that she had the mental capacity to launch legal action.  

A lawyer representing the girl had described her as a “bright, intelligent young person”.

The girl’s solicitor Zoe Fleetwood, from Dawson Cornwell, said the judge’s decision gave the teenager “comfort” in the final days of her life. 

Fleetwood stressed the ruling was not about ethics of cryogenic preservation, but about the child’s welfare and her wishes being followed. 

If the girl had been 18 then she would have been able to detail her wishes in her will, which her mother could then have executed, Fleetwood said.

Speaking about the “difficult” process the family had to go through in order to preserve the girl’s body, Fleetwood said: “Some might say the girl’s mother’s attention was directed towards that procedure rather than grieving at that time, but her daughter had passed away, the procedure needed to be carried out and one can’t imagine what this parent was going through at this time at the loss of a daughter.

“But parent’s attentions a can be directed elsewhere with various arrangements after a person’s death.” 

The judge was told that she had pursued her investigations with “determination” even though a number of people had tried to dissuade her.

He said case was “an example of the new questions that science poses to the law - perhaps most of all to family law”.

The judge he had concluded that allowing the girl’s mother to make decisions about the disposal of her remains would be in her best welfare interests.

Lawyers representing the teenager, her parents, and hospital bosses had debated issues in the case with Mr Justice Jackson.

There are three commercial organisations that perform the cryogenic process, one in Russia and two in the US. 

More:

Uk News
Suggest a correction
Comments

CONVERSATIONS