October 21, 2005

Parents succeed in UK baby right-to-life case

By Kate Holton

LONDON (Reuters) - The parents of gravely ill baby
Charlotte Wyatt finally succeeded on Friday in overturning a
legal ruling which had allowed doctors to let her die naturally
if her condition worsened.

Debbie and Darren Wyatt had failed several times before to
get the ruling overturned but judges consistently decided it
would not be right to attempt to revive her with aggressive
invasive treatment if she stopped breathing.

On Friday, the day of Charlotte's second birthday, High
Court judge Justice Hedley changed the ruling that he himself
made a year ago.

His decision came after a review last week in which the
parents said their daughter had made good progress and now had
a real chance of survival.

Hedley said doctors should now act in Charlotte's best
interests, which meant they could resuscitate her if they
thought it would be successful.

They can however still refuse to resuscitate her if they
felt it was against their conscience.

Charlotte was born three months premature weighing just one
pound and measuring five inches. She has remained at hospital
in Portsmouth ever since.

In lifting the previous order, Hedley made it clear that in
the future it will be for doctors to decide what is in
Charlotte's "best interests."

"I hope that the trust and confidence of which both Dr K
(Charlotte's consultant who cannot be named for legal reasons)
and the parents spoke can now develop with a view to securing
the best for Charlotte, whether in life or death."

The parents told reporters outside court they were
delighted with the verdict.

"This is the best birthday present she could ever want,
because now Charlotte can get on with her life," Darren Wyatt
said. "We haven't got this huge black cloud hanging over us

On hearing the ruling, the family's counsel thanked the
judge, to which he responded by asking those who were heading
off for the birthday party to convey in "whatever way they
could to Charlotte that others were thinking about her."