Brain disease woman to be allowed to die with dignity

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The Independent Online

Eileen Doran, 31, is being treated at Walton Neurological Centre in Liverpool for the incurable brain disease mitochondria cytopathy.

The case was referred to the High Court in London after her relatives challenged an earlier decision allowing doctors not to resuscitate her if she stopped breathing.

Mr Justice Coleridge said he had heard "heart-rending" evidence from the Irish travelling family that they were convinced she was not brain dead as doctors had diagnosed. But he said in a ruling yesterday: "Are there any advantages to this patient in this condition in attempting by the use of artificial and very invasive procedures to prolong her survival beyond that which will naturally occur? I can honestly answer that question by saying that I can think of none."

He said Ms Doran's death within a relatively short time was inevitable. "A few extra months will not be of any benefit to her. In my judgment she should be allowed as dignified a passing as is achievable."

He said from the family's point of view, every extra day was worth fighting for. Ms Doran was part of a closely knit, loving and devoted family. "Given what they have had to face in the past few years, no one can have anything but the profoundest sympathy for them in their hope for the arrival of a miracle. But my focus must be on the patient's best interests and not on the family's best interests."

Her father, Peter Doran, 53, who lives with his extended family in Liverpool, had told the judge at a hearing last week that he did not believe the hospital diagnosis that his daughter was in a persistent vegetative state and would never improve.

He said he had seen his daughter respondwhen he visited her, opening her eyes when he asked her to do so. "Eileen follows me with her eyes. She looks at me," he told the judge. "If her eyes are shut, I will say, 'Come on Eileen, girl, open your eyes or I'm going home'."

"She opens her eyes and I say, "Open them wider', and she opens them wider."

The hospital wanted a declaration from the court that it would not be in Ms Doran's best interests to try to prolong life if her breathing failed, she had a cardiac arrest or contracted a life-threatening infection.