The High Court has given a health trust permission to lawfully withdraw life-sustaining treatment from a woman in a permanent vegetative state.
Mr Justice Charles, sitting at the Court of Protection in London, ruled that stopping artificial nutrition and hydration would be in the best interests of the 54-year-old mother of four.
Members of her family, who the court heard were “entirely supportive” of the application made by the trust responsible for her care, were present in court for the decision.
Following a “collapse” in 2009, the woman, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, suffered “extensive hypoxic brain damage”.
The judge said the application by a NHS trust, which also cannot be named, was for a declaration “to render lawful” the withdrawal of hydration, nutrition and medication for a heart condition.
He said: “The consequence of that is that very sadly the patient will die.”
The judge said he was “satisfied that appropriate testing and observations have been carried out by the appropriate qualified professionals” over a significant period of time.
There was “convincing evidence from those who are nearest and dearest to her that there is nothing in her approach to life which would indicate that, if she were able to say something about it, she would not completely support what the family are asking me to do”.
He concluded: “In my judgement this patient has permanent extensive brain damage and is in a permanent vegetative state. Further treatment would be futile.”
The declaration sought was “in her best interests”.