Patient, 34, dies after judge ruled he had right to refuse stoma bag

Patient, 34, dies after judge ruled he had right to refuse stoma bag

June 10, 2020

Patient, 34, dies after judge ruled he had right to refuse operation because he did not want to live with a permanent stoma bag

  • A 34-year-old man made it clear he did not want to live with a permanent stoma 
  • Mr Justice Hayden ruled the man should be able to die because of this evidence 
  • The man, who had a history of bowel problems, has now died, lawyers revealed 

A man in his 30s who did not want to live with a stoma has died after a judge ruled he had the right to refuse life-saving treatment.

The man, 34, who had a history of bowel problems, was seriously ill and sedated in a hospital intensive care unit following major surgery.

Specialists said he had a 60% to 70% chance of surviving but would need a permanent stoma – a surgical opening on the abdomen though which urine or faeces can be diverted out of the body.

Mr Justice Hayden was told the man had made a written ‘advanced decision’, saying he would not want to live with a permanent stoma. 

The judge ruled earlier this month that the man could be allowed to die after considering evidence at a virtual hearing in the Court of Protection, where judges make decisions about people who lack the mental capacity to make decisions for themselves.

He said medics could lawfully stop providing nutrition and hydration by artificial means and move the man to a palliative care regime.

Lawyers representing the trust said life-support treatment has been withdrawn and the man has died. 

Mr Justice Hayden ruled earlier this month that the man could be allowed to die after considering evidence at a virtual hearing in the Court of Protection

Bosses at Barnsley Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, who had responsibility for his care, had asked Mr Justice Hayden to decide what was in the man’s best interests.

They said a decision needed to be made because it would be some time before the man regained the capacity to make a decision for himself.

The man’s parents said his wishes should be respected. 

Campaign group Christian Concern argues the ruling is flawed because it ignores the fact MSP agreed to have a stoma operation on May 27 – signalling an apparent change of mind. 

It is this operation that has left him in intensive care at Barnsley Hospital. 

Mr Justice Hayden ruled that the man could not be identified in media reports of the case and referred to him by the initials ‘MSP’ in a written ruling on the case.

The man’s parents spoke to the judge, during the Court of Protection hearing, from their home, and told him that their son had lived with a temporary stoma once before, following surgery.

‘He hated it,’ the man’s mother told the judge. ‘He said: ‘How can I get a job? How can I get a woman?’

‘We support what he wants.’

The man was in intensive care at Barnsley Hospital shortly before his death after he had a stoma operation

Mr Justice Hayden said many people live ‘perfectly full lives’ with a stoma but the man had delivered a ‘consistent’ message.

The judge said the man had endured a ‘decade of serious ill health’ and had a ‘desperately reduced’ quality of life.

‘He has made a practical, utilitarian calculation that life in these circumstances is not what he wants,’ the judge had said.

‘In a real sense this is not a case about choosing to die, it is about an adult’s capacity to shape and control the end of his life.’

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