Baby with irreversible brain damage 'should be allowed to die'

Baby whose 18-year-old mother died on the day he was born has irreversible brain damage and should be allowed to die, judge rules

  • Danielle Jones, 18, died after collapsing at parent’s home in Bristol, judge heard
  • Her son, Danny, was delivered by C-section and treated in an intensive care unit
  • Specialists said 12-day-old baby suffered irreversible brain damage during birth
  • Judge ruled today that doctors could lawfully disconnect Danny from ventilator

A 12-day-old baby whose teenage mother died on the day he was born has irreversible brain damage and should be allowed to die, a judge has ruled.

Danielle Jones, 18, died after collapsing at her parents’ home in Bristol on January 17, Mr Justice Hayden heard.

Her son, Danny, was delivered by Caesarean section and treated in an intensive care unit. Mr Justice Hayden heard that Miss Jones had not told anyone that she was pregnant.

He was told that she had collapsed for no apparent reason and was declared dead on arrival at hospital.

Specialists said Danny had suffered irreversible brain damage during birth and should be allowed to die.

Mr Justice Hayden ruled today that doctors could lawfully disconnect Danny from a ventilator and stop providing life-support treatment.

Danielle Jones (pictured above), 18, died after collapsing at her parents’ home in Bristol on January 17, Mr Justice Hayden heard. Her son, Danny, was delivered by Caesarean section

The judge heard that Ms Jones’ boyfriend, Ozzy Godfrey, also 18, was thought to be Danny’s father.

He said relatives agreed that Danny should be allowed to die.

Mr Justice Hayden, who is based in London, considered the case at a virtual public hearing in the Family Division of the High Court on Friday.

He said Danny and his parents could be named in media reports.

But the judge said the hospital where Danny was being cared for could not be named, and medics treating him could not be identified.

He also said no photographs of Danny could be published.

Bosses at the University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trust had asked Mr Justice Hayden to decide what moves were in Danny’s best interests. 

Mr Justice Hayden heard that Miss Jones had been 36 weeks pregnant – two weeks short of full term.

A specialist told the judge that Danny’s brain had been denied oxygen during birth.

He said Danny had been in an intensive care unit since shortly after birth and was being given ‘mechanical ventilation’.

Mr Justice Hayden heard that Miss Jones (pictured) had been 36 weeks pregnant – two weeks short of full term. A specialist said that Danny’s brain had been denied oxygen during birth

The judge was told that Danny could not be treated, would not recover and would never have any ‘meaningful interaction’ with the outside world.

Lawyers representing trust officials said it had not yet been possible to carry out tests to confirm that Mr Godfrey was Danny’s father.

There was therefore no-one with parental responsibility who could give doctors permission to withdraw life-support treatment, they said.

In those circumstances, a judge had to make a decision.

Mr Justice Hayden said he hoped that tests could be carried out to prove who Danny’s father was, so that both parents could be named on a birth certificate.

The judge saw Danny, with relatives, in hospital via a computer link during a break in the hearing and said he was ‘suffused’ with the love of ‘both sides’ of his family.

Mr Justice Hayden said: ‘He is surrounded by toys. There’s a Winnie-the-Pooh, a monkey and a small traditional teddy bear with a big bow.’

The judge added: ‘There’s also a white fluffy toy that belonged to Danny’s mother.

‘It looked almost new and it brought home to me, with powerful force, how very young his mum was.’

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