Parents Win Right To End The Life Of Their Severely Disabled Daughter


A heartbroken mum and dad have made legal history after they won a High Court case to end the life of their severely disabled 12-year-old daughter.

Nancy Fitzmaurice was born blind and suffering from hydrocphalus, meningitis and septicaemia, which left her unable to talk, walk, eat or drink.

Her quality of life was so poor that she depended on round the clock hospital care and was fed, watered and medicated through a tube at London's Great Ormond Street Hospital.

But when a routine operation left her screaming in agony, her mum, Charlotte Fitzmaurice, and dad, David Wise, made the heartbreaking decision to end Nancy's life.

In a landmark case in August, Great Ormond Street fought on behalf of the parents to give her the right to die.

In a statement given to a judge explaining why her daughter should no longer suffer, Charlotte - who had given up work to care for her daughter - said: "My daughter is no longer my daughter, she is now merely just a shell.

"The light from her eyes is now gone and is replaced with fear and a longing to be at peace.

"Today I am appealing to you for Nancy as I truly believe she has endured enough. For me to say that breaks my heart. But I have to say it."

Mrs Justice King immediately granted the parents' request.

Nancy died 14 days later at Great Ormond Street with her family around her after her fluids were withdrawn.

The ruling sets a precedent. It is the first time a child breathing on her own, not on life support and not suffering a terminal illness has been allowed to die.

In her summing up, the judge said Charlotte's love for her daughter is apparent and she had 'great admiration' for her devotion to Nancy.

Speaking at the weekend, Charlotte, 36, said watching Nancy go was 'unbearable'.

She said: "Although I will live with the guilt forever, I know I have done everything I can for her and she is at peace."

When Charlotte was pregnant with Nancy, she was told she would be born severely ill after her pregnancy was hit with a bacterial infection.

After she was born, doctors said the little girl would likely die before reaching her fourth birthday.

Charlotte, from Ilford, Essex, told the Mirror: "When she was just six months old she was diagnosed with epilepsy and was having daily seizures.

"It was heartbreaking to watch her in so much pain."

Nancy suffered an infection in an operation to remove a kidney stone when she was 10 years old in May, 2012, triggering a further decline in her health.

She even became immune to a cocktail of drugs, including morphine and ketamine, having needed so much pain relief over the years.

Charlotte said: "She was screaming and writhing in agony 24 hours a day. Not being able to ease her suffering was too much to bear.

"She wasn't my angelic child any more, she was a shell. I wanted beautiful memories of Nancy, not soul-crushing ones.

"After a whole weekend of her screaming in agony, I decided I wasn't going to watch my little girl suffer any more."

Charlotte and David, 47, met with Great Ormond Street Hospital's ethics board in London, and the hospital agreed to take Nancy's case to the High Court on her behalf.

They argued that she deserved the right to a quicker, more painless death than was possible without medics being able to withdraw all her fluids.

A spokesman for Great Ormond Street said: "In all cases we try to support families and help them come to an informed decision in the best interests of their child.

"In Nancy's case, her mother and extended family provided her with an exceptionally high quality of care, and acted with remarkable grace and dignity in arriving at very difficult decisions."