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mothernature · 30/09/2004 10:45

Parents in 'right-to-life' fight
The parents of a seriously ill premature baby will go to the High Court on Thursday to battle for their daughter's right to treatment.
Charlotte Wyatt weighed just one pound when she was born 11 months ago.

She has serious heart and lung problems, and has already stopped breathing three times but been revived.

Doctors say she should be allowed to die if her breathing stops again, but her parents, Darren, 32, and Debbie, 23, want her to be resuscitated.

They argue that, as she has survived this far, Charlotte - who measured just five inches when born - must be given every assistance to help her live.

But doctors say she will not survive beyond infancy because her lungs are so severely damaged.

Charlotte was born when her mother was 26 weeks pregnant, has never left hospital and is fed through a tube as she cannot suck from a bottle.

She also needs a constant supply of oxygen.

Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust says that while parents can decide what treatment is given to their child, they cannot insist on inappropriate treatment which would bring more suffering than benefits.


Cases such as this are very rare, and are usually heard in private.

But, earlier this week, Mr and Mrs Wyatt - both committed Christians from Buckland, Portsmouth - were given permission for their case to be heard in public.

Trust managers agreed the case should be discussed openly.

It is anxious to reassure the public about the treatment it offers and the decisions it makes.

However, the judge banned the media from identifying the individual medical staff caring for Charlotte and the independent expert witnesses who are to be called to give evidence.

The experts had expressed fears they would be targeted by pro-life lobbyists unless they were allowed to remain anonymous.

The case is expected to last two days.

OP posts:
Hulababy · 30/09/2004 10:48

Thankfully I have never been in such an horrible predicament; hopefully I never will be. I have no idea how I would react or what I would want. So sad for those involved

zebra · 30/09/2004 10:48

Dont think any of us+/8 knowsenuf 2 comment.

SoupDragon · 30/09/2004 10:51

I remember reading about this and couldn't make my mind up one way or the other. From the point of view of a parent, I'd want everything possible done to keep my baby alive but from an impartial view, I wonder if it is better not to resuscitate. I wonder if they can really be sure how badly affected the baby has been and exactly what the effects of the damage are.

Ooooh! I'm sitting on the fence!

Angeliz · 30/09/2004 10:54

I absolutely couldn't say.
Don't think anyone could know how they'd react in such a situation.
I just keep putting my fingers apart and thinking 5 inches!!!!!!!!!

JoolsToo · 30/09/2004 11:07

it's extremely sad but I think I can say with conviction that if it was my child I'd say goodbye and let her fall asleep.

Skate · 30/09/2004 11:14

So hard to say but I can't imagine seeing my own child there and 'letting' her go. Standing back from it, I suppose it might be kinder to let her go but then how sure are the doctors about her long term prognosis if resuscitated again?

Just so glad I've never had to make this sort of choice .

I'm off now to look at my 4 week old babe asleep in his cot and feel utterly blessed and thankful.

nightowl · 01/10/2004 01:47

really dont know but i shed a tear at this.

essbee · 01/10/2004 01:59

Message withdrawn

Marina · 07/10/2004 18:13

It looks as though the medical profession has won the right to make that decision for the parents. here
What an impossible and tragic situation. I know two families well who have had to go this route

KateandtheGirls · 07/10/2004 18:19

It must be the worst situation a parent can find themself in, but I have to agree with Jools () and say that the best thing for the baby would be to let her go peacefully.

So sad.

jampot · 07/10/2004 19:17

My friend's baby was born 22 years ago due to his mum having placenta praevia at just 27 weeks and weighed less than a bag of sugar - he spent ages in SCBU. He did suffer as a child with breathing problems including asthma and was always very small for his age but is now a strapping 22 year old young man and is about to embark on a pro golf career. So I would be inclined to say go with the parents - how could you ever give up hope?

zebra · 07/10/2004 19:39

Poor creature... look how small she is , how big that finger is next to her head. Even allowing for her prematurity, that's an 8 month old baby (adjusted) smaller than many newborns.

KateandtheGirls · 07/10/2004 19:51

IMO quality of life is better than quantity.

Easy · 07/10/2004 20:37

Kate, this is spooky, we have absolutely agreed on 2 threads today.

I believe that everyone has a right to quality of life. I do NOT believe in saving life at any cost.

We would not subject an animal to the life this child has, we would 'put it out of it's misery'. Yet these parents want to subject a defenceless child to life in a plastic box, fed thru a tube, unable to fend for herself in any way, with no prospect of ever being able to do so.

And BTW, they already have a child, and one on the way, who must need some of the attention and emotional energy they have given to this poor wee baby.

My mother had two disabled babies (my sister and I). She was told she could have more children, 'it' wouldn't happen again. My mother decided not to, bexcause she felt an NT child would always have to get less attention than the 2 SN children she had already.

Donbean · 07/10/2004 21:06

I know that this is a side to the discussion that may cause some strong comments but as a nurse, often faced with caring for people with no hope of survival. Often with families in this dilemma,i find it very very difficult a human bieng... to care for these people with the full knowledge that the routine and essential care that i am providing them is causing them distress and some times pain. This from my point of view is unnacceptable and not why i became a nurse. This has NOTHING to do with "resourses" or "money" it has to do with quality and comfort. Those nurses caring for that baby are in an impossible and unenviable position. They have not been mentioned as i accept completely and without question that it is the parents and family that are the important people in this. Just another angle to consider.

pollyanna · 07/10/2004 21:14

This is such a difficult issue. I must confess my initial thought was that the parents were putting their own feelings before the needs of the baby, but it is really difficult to say how I would react in the same situation. If there was any hope at all, it would be extremely difficult (or impossible) to let go. Very sad story.

MeanBean · 07/10/2004 21:34

I also think it must be so hard for them because she has survived against the odds so long, the doctors have been telling them that she is going to die since she was born, and she hasn't, so you can't really blame them for clinging on to hope. We've all heard of cases where doctors gave a baby hours to live thirty years ago and now he's a great big strapping mountaineer, or some such, and I think people in that situation can cling to those stories of hope. But sometimes, they need somebody else to take the decision out of their hands. Agonising for them, though.

aloha · 07/10/2004 23:00

I hope I would have the courage to let her go. Even the doctor speaking for the parents could only suggest a tracheotomy to save her poor lungs from further trauma - that involves cutting her tiny throat. It's no life in a plastic box, no matter how much they love her.

aloha · 07/10/2004 23:01

Some reports suggested that the parents had never heard all the doctors saying exactly how damaged Charlotte is - her brain, her lungs, everything. And now they aren't contesting the decision, so I truly hope they have come to terms with it, and maybe Charlotte will get her day (or hour) in the sun.

JuniperDewdrop · 07/10/2004 23:06

My prayers go to little Charlotte and her family. It's so very sad.

marthamoo · 07/10/2004 23:09

I just think the whole situation is so terribly sad - particularly after looking at the picture on zebra's link: what a beautiful little girl.

The logical part of me says let her go - don't make her suffer a moment more than she has already. The "Mum" bit of me says, if she was mine - how could I give up on her? I would be praying, hoping against hope, for a miracle - something to keep my baby in the world for just a little bit longer.

I hope they find some peace. I don't think any of us can really anticipate what we would do in such a situation. Thankfully, most of us will never have to

80sMum · 07/10/2004 23:13

My heart break for her parents. Every cell in a parent's body is programmed to care for and nurture their child. To give consent to allow your own child to die goes against all a parent's deepest instincts. It's a terrible decision to have to make.

wizzysmum · 07/10/2004 23:14

We had a baby (twin) that we knew had a lethal heart defect. We were given the option of fairly pointless operations to prolong her life (got the idea it was a fairly new procedure and specialists wanted to practise though our paediatrician was fantastic). We opted just to let her die peacefully - as it was her problem was worse than originally thought and operation wouldn't have been successful - and I feel 8 years later that we did exactly the right thing - for us. I feel so much for those parents - they feel they made the right decision for them and though I don't personally agree with it. Writing down feelings is very cathartic - I'm sure they've done this. I was told our baby wasn't suffering but I overheard the nurse telling dh that she had morphine for her pain (I guess they were trying to protect me - I still had another newborn baby to look after as well). I have never for one minute felt that we made the wrong decision (we thought long and hard about it) and now although it is a sad part of our past we know that our remaining 4 children - I'm very lucky and I adore them - have a great quality of life.
Now I've written this it sounds very rambling. I'm sure anyone who's lost a child will understand. My point is that while we knew very clearly what we thought was right, in any nightmarish situation it's so easy to understand that others do what is right for them, even if it is totally opposite from our own opinion

JuniperDewdrop · 07/10/2004 23:14

it's been made for them now though hasn't it?

stupidgirl · 07/10/2004 23:14

Haven't read all the posts, but I've been following the story. I think Marthamoo puts it well, but I can't imagine any mum being prepared to want her to go on knowing she was in pain.

A horrible, unbearable situation to be in, but IMHO the right decision has been made.

The couple were quoted as saying the drs shouldn't be allowed to play god with her life, but they've been playing god by keeping her alive all this time.

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