A judge has ruled that a patient should be allowed to die rather than live with a stoma bag.
The Court of Protection in London made the decision on behalf of a man with a history of bowel problems to have food and water withdrawn, following surgery despite a good chance of recovery.
The judge was told the man, who is currently sedated, had made a written “advanced decision” saying he would not want to live with the stoma, despite consenting to its insertion.
Quality of life
The court heard how the 34-year-old, in intensive care at Barnsley Hospital following major surgery, has a “desperately reduced” quality of life.
Specialists said that although the man has a 60% to 70% chance of surviving, he would require a permanent stoma.
Mr Justice Hayden was told the man had made a written “advanced decision” saying he did not want to live with it – a decision the judge noted ran “entirely contrary” to consenting to have the stoma inserted.
He gave permission for doctors to stop providing nutrition and hydration by artificial means.
Barnsley Hospital NHS Foundation Trust said that following the Court’s decisions “the Trust will now proceed, in discussion with the patient’s parents, to withdraw treatment”.
It added: “The patient will be provided with palliative care to ensure that, as far as practicable, he retains the greatest dignity and suffers the least discomfort until such time as his life comes to an end.”
Crohn’s disease and bowel cancer charities have raised concerns over the case, saying that people with stomas live ‘fulfilled lives’.
Rebecca Porta, CEO of Bowel & Cancer Research, said: “We were greatly saddened to learn of the challenges faced by this young man and that he feels he cannot live with a stoma.”
She continued: “There are an estimated 200,000 people – of all ages – living with a stoma in the UK and, whilst some may find them difficult to live with, most are glad that their stoma is literally a life-saver, treating a range of illnesses.
“With the right support and help many people are able to lead a full life – finding a job, building relationships, having a family, fulfilling their dreams. It is tragic that he should think death is a better option.”
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