Life-sustaining treatment can be withdrawn from two-year-old girl, rules judge
search

The latest Jewish News

Read this week’s digital edition

Click Here

Life-sustaining treatment can be withdrawn from two-year-old girl, rules judge

Alta Fixsler suffered a severe brain injury at birth and her doctors say she cannot breathe, eat or drink without sophisticated medical treatment.

Alta Fixsler, as a High Court judge has been asked to allow her to move from England to Israel. Mr Justice MacDonald is considering a dispute over two-year-old Alta's future at a private virtual hearing in the Family Division of the High Court.  (Irwin Mitchell/PA Media)
Alta Fixsler, as a High Court judge has been asked to allow her to move from England to Israel. Mr Justice MacDonald is considering a dispute over two-year-old Alta's future at a private virtual hearing in the Family Division of the High Court. (Irwin Mitchell/PA Media)

A seriously ill two-year-old girl can have life-sustaining treatment withdrawn in her best interests, a High Court judge has ruled.

Alta Fixsler suffered a severe brain injury at birth and her doctors say she cannot breathe, eat or drink without sophisticated medical treatment.

Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust, which has responsibility for her care, asked a High Court judge to decide whether it is in Alta’s best interests to withdraw life-sustaining treatment and put her on a palliative care regime.

At a hearing last week, lawyers representing the trust told the court that there is “no prospect of her ever getting better”.

But Alta’s parents said their Jewish faith means they cannot agree to steps which would lead to her death and want to take her to a hospital in Israel.

Their barrister Victoria Butler-Cole QC said: “They would like her to be treated in Israel by doctors who share their religious beliefs and ethical framework, and struggle to understand why the trust will not agree to this.

“Hospitals in Israel are willing to accept Alta, the risks of transfer are very low, and the costs of transporting Alta safely will be met.

“The parents implore the trust to reconsider their position.”

In a judgment delivered on Friday, Mr Justice MacDonald ruled that “it is in Alta’s best interests for the treatment that is currently sustaining her precious life now to be withdrawn”.

He said taking Alta to Israel for treatment to continue there would “expose Alta to further pain and discomfort during the course of transfer for no medical benefit in circumstances where all parties accept that the treatment options now available for Alta provide no prospect of recovery”.

The judge added: “The parents cannot be criticised for having reached a different decision informed by the religious laws that govern their way of life.

“But applying the secular legal principles that I must, and according due respect to the deeply held religious convictions of the parents, I cannot agree with their assessment and am required to act accordingly.”

Mr Justice MacDonald concluded: “It is not in the best interests of Alta for life-sustaining medical treatment to be continued, and … it is in her best interests for a palliative care regime to be implemented.”

In a statement released after the ruling, Mat Culverhouse, a solicitor at Irwin Mitchell law firm representing Alta and her family, said: “Naturally, Alta’s parents are disappointed with today’s decision.

“They are devastated at the prospect of her treatment being withdrawn and are now considering their options with regard to appealing.

“We’ll continue to support them throughout this difficult time.”

Support your Jewish community. Support your Jewish News

Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.

Unlike other Jewish media, we do not charge for content. That won’t change. Because we are free, we rely on advertising to cover our costs. This vital lifeline, which has dropped in recent years, has fallen further due to coronavirus.

For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.

Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.

You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.

100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...

Engaging

Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.

Celebrating

There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.

Pioneering

In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.

Campaigning

Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish Newsalso produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.

Easy access

In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.

Voice of our community to wider society

The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.

We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.

read more:
comments