Court allows coma woman to die

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A woman in a state of "living death" since a car crash three years ago should be allowed to die, a senior judge ruled yesterday.

Sir Stephen Brown, president of the High Court's Family Division, gave permission to a health authority to switch off the mother-of-two's life support machines after hearing evidence that she was in permanent vegetative state (PVS).

All life-sustaining treatment, including assistance with breathing, feeding and hydration, should be brought to a conclusion, the judge said.

The woman, aged 43, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, will leave a husband, 17-year-old son and 14 year-old-daughter. She is the latest of a small but growing number of "right to die" cases.

Sir Stephen had been told during the three-day hearing that the woman's husband, doctors and carers all agreed that she should be allowed to die in peace and with dignity. She has been in a coma in hospital since the crash in 1994 in which she was the driver and her son a passenger.

Patricia Wynn Davies