Published: 15th March 2006
The Christian Medical Fellowship has welcomed today's High Court Decision to continue treatment for a baby with a rare neurodegenerative condition.
The parents of baby MB, who suffers from spinal muscular atrophy, were fighting a hospital move to discontinue ventilation.
CMF General Secretary, Peter Saunders commented, 'The court has made a wise decision. This baby, although suffering from profound muscle weakness, can still see, hear, feel, smell and taste - and should have normal intellectual capacity. Many competent disabled people are able to accept and live with that quality of life - even with the need for ventilation.'
'Doctors worldwide are divided over whether or not invasive ventilation in cases of SMA type I is appropriate but the life expectancy and quality of life for these children has improved dramatically in recent years largely through more active treatment. In these circumstances, had the doctors been unhappy to continue treatment in the face of the parents' clear wishes then they should have been willing to refer the baby to others willing to consider continued ventilation.'
“Recent advances mean that some people with SMA type 1 are now living into early adulthood. The vast majority of those with this condition do not want an unnecessary early death - they just want the support they need and deserve to get on with their lives.
' Had this case gone the other way it could have placed us on a very dangerous slippery slope indeed, which might have put the lives of many disabled people at risk. Many people with less severe forms of SMA hold down responsible jobs, despite requiring intermittent ventilation and have learnt the secret of being content with the quality of life they have. This case could well have opened the way for more non-treatment decisions to be made on 'quality of life' grounds providing a temptation for NHS Trusts to use 'quality of life' as a get out clause for what are in reality economic decisions '
'Able-bodied people should not be making quality of life judgements about disabled people. It is not for doctors to decide whether or not a person's suffering is intolerable or whether a person's life is worth living.'
Steven Fouch (CMF Head of Communications) 020 7234 9668
Alistair Thompson on 07970 162 225
Christian Medical Fellowship (CMF) was founded in 1949 and is an interdenominational organisation with over 5,000 doctors, 900medical and nursing students and 300 nurses and midwives as members in all branches of medicine, nursing and midwifery. A registered charity, it is linked to over 100 similar bodies in other countries throughout the world.
CMF exists to unite Christian healthcare professionals to pursue the highest ethical standards in Christian and professional life and to increase faith in Christ and acceptance of his ethical teaching.