A judge has been asked to decide whether a mother left brain damaged and paralysed from the neck down after contracting Covid should be allowed to die.
Doctors treating the woman at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge say life-support treatment should end, but her family disagree.
The woman, who is in her 50s, was admitted to hospital on an ‘emergency basis’ late in 2020 and put on a ventilator.
One specialist told Mr Justice Hayden at the Court of Protection that her family were in ‘daily torture’, and the case had played out in ‘the most horrific way’.
Barrister Katie Gollop QC, representing NHS bosses, said the woman was ‘almost entirely paralysed’, had ‘severe’ cognitive impairment, and told the judge: ‘There is nothing they can do to make any aspect of her condition better.’
Ms Gollop said doctors thought the woman’s future would be ‘slanted towards pain and discomfort’.
She said the woman’s family believed some of the treatment had been ‘negligent’.
Ms Gollop also said her relatives thought hospital bosses had made the Court of Protection application because they wished to ‘cover up’ the consequences of that ‘negligent treatment’.
Mr Justice Hayden said it was the first ever end-of-life case related to the Covid pandemic.
The judge said: ‘It is the most extreme example of its kind, and it is the first time in the whole of the pandemic that I have been asked to make an end-of-life decision in relation to Covid-19.
‘It is the first time a court has been asked to consider an end-of-life case, as a result of Covid. I suspect therefore it is a case that will attract a lot of public attention.’
However, Mr Justice Hayden said the woman could not be identified in media reports.
The judge is due to hear medical evidence from specialists and the family, and will consider what the woman would have wanted.
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