Right-to-life case adjourned after man shows signs of consciousness

Neurologist dramatically switches sides to support family after hospital visit

A family pleading for the right to keep their severely brain-damaged father alive received a startling 11th-hour fillip yesterday when a doctor confirmed there were signs of consciousness.

A case before the Court of Protection was adjourned when the family's claims that he was reacting to their presence, consistently denied by clinicians, were confirmed by a doctor who witnessed just such a response on Wednesday night.

"The family feel vindicated in fighting their case but even more importantly they are relieved that medically Mr L is no longer in a vegetative state and there is hope for recovery," said the family's solicitor, Helen Lewis, of Pannone. She added: "It is a sobering thought that the Trust would have put in place a 'do not resuscitate' order if the family had not challenged their stance through the legal system."

Just five weeks ago the 55-year-old, who can only be identified as Mr L, suffered a third cardiac arrest which left him severely brain-damaged, "awake but unaware", with his chances of recovery "exceptionally remote".

His wife and sons have been in the Court of Protection this week fighting an application by Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust to implement a 'do not resuscitate order' if he suffers a "life threatening event".

Despite their assertions that during daily visits he had reacted by following them with his eyes and expressing emotion, doctors insisted these were simply the reflex movements of someone in such a vegetative state.

But yesterday, just as expert in neurology, Dr Peter Newman, was due to give evidence expected to support the Trust's application, the family's barrister, Jenni Richards QC, revealed Mr L had shown signs of consciousness the night before. She told Mr Justice Moylan that relatives had visited him in hospital along with a doctor, who produced a witness statement in which he accepted there was a "closing of eyes and grimacing" when Mr L's eyes were cleaned.

Ms Richards said: "That video footage was viewed this morning by Dr Newman as well as by representatives of the family... Dr Newman's view... was that Mr L was no longer in a persistent vegetative state." She said Dr Newman now felt Mr L was now "most likely in a minimally conscious state" and further improvement was possible.

The possibility could not be ruled out that he could develop "beyond the minimally conscious state, although of course the nature of his brain injury means he will always be severely incapacitated", said Ms Richards.

However, Claire Watson, appearing for the Trust, said it was unlikely the doctors would alter their care plane in light of medical evidence of the severity of his brain injury.

Mr L's family insist it is too soon to make the decision and, largely due to his strong Islamic faith, he would want to be resuscitated.

But one leading expert gave evidence that a clinician had to judge what quality of life he would have if resuscitated, whether it would be a "meaningful recovery" characterised by "pleasure, or discomfort and distress". He estimated the chances of making such a "meaningful recovery" as 1 in 10,000.

Yesterday the case was adjourned until 1 October for doctors to consider the new evidence about his condition. In the meantime, the judge ordered he should be resuscitated if life was threatened.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookA wonderful selection of salads, starters and mains featuring venison, grouse and other game
Arts and Entertainment
AKB48 perform during one of their daily concerts at Tokyo’s Akihabara theatre
musicJapan's AKB48 are one of the world’s most-successful pop acts
News
Ian Thorpe has thanked his supporters after the athlete said in an interview that he is gay
people
News
The headstone of jazz great Miles Davis at Woodlawn Cemetery in New York
news
Arts and Entertainment
Brendan O'Carroll has brought out his female alter-ego Agnes Brown for Mrs Brown's Boys D'Movie
filmComedy holds its place at top of the UK box office
News
newsBear sweltering in zoo that reaches temperatures of 40 degrees
Arts and Entertainment
Professor Kathy Willis will showcase plants from the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew
radioPlants: From Roots to Riches has been two years in the making
Arts and Entertainment
TV The follow-up documentary that has got locals worried
Arts and Entertainment
Eminem's daughter Hailie has graduated from high school
music
Arts and Entertainment
Original Netflix series such as Orange Is The New Black are to benefit from a 'substantial' increase in investment
TVHoax announcement had caused outrage
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur
fashion

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

News
One Direction star Harry Styles who says he has no plans to follow his pal Cara Delevingne down the catwalk.
peopleManagement confirms rumours singer is going it alone are false
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Dynamics CRM Developer (C#, .NET, Dynamics CRM 2011/2013)

    £40000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Dynamics CRM D...

    Web Developer (C#, ASP.NET, AJAX, JavaScript, MVC, HTML)

    £40000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Web Developer ...

    C# R&D .NET Developer-Algorithms, WCF, WPF, Agile, ASP.NET,MVC

    £50000 - £67000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# R&D .NE...

    C# Developer (Web, HTML5, CSS3, ASP.NET, JS, Visual Studios)

    £40000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

    Day In a Page

    Super Mario crushes the Messi dream as Germany win the 2014 World Cup in Brazil

    Super Mario crushes the Messi dream

    Germany win the 2014 World Cup in Brazil
    Saharan remains may be evidence of the first race war, 13,000 years ago

    The first race war, 13,000 years ago?

    Saharan remains may be evidence of oldest large-scale armed conflict
    Scientists find early warning system for Alzheimer’s

    Scientists find early warning system for Alzheimer’s

    Researchers hope eye tests can spot ‘biomarkers’ of the disease
    Sex, controversy and schoolgirl schtick

    Meet Japan's AKB48

    Pop, sex and schoolgirl schtick make for controversial success
    Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

    How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

    A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
    The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

    The evolution of Andy Serkis

    First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
    You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

    You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

    Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
    Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

    Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

    Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
    Children's books are too white, says Laureate

    Children's books are too white, says Laureate

    Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
    Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

    Blackest is the new black

    Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
    Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

    Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

    The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
    Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

    Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

    From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
    Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

    Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

    Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
    Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

    Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

    When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor