Court battle baby can only feel 'continuing pain'

Doctors caring for a desperately-ill premature baby believe that she has "no feelings other than continuing pain" and a quality of life which is "both terrible and permanent", a High Court judge heard today.

One consultant had stated that to resuscitate 11-month-old Charlotte Wyatt if she stopped breathing for a fourth time would be "purposeless and therefore intolerable to her", Mr Justice Hedley was told.

The judge was hearing a plea by Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust for an order allowing doctors not to ventilate Charlotte in the event of a future critical episode and to allow her to die in peace.

The Trust is opposed by parents Darren and Debbie Wyatt, who were in court today to hear legal and medical argument presented to the judge over their daughter's future.

They believe Charlotte, having fought against the odds so far, has a real chance of survival and that everything possible should be done to keep her alive.

Charlotte was born three months premature at St Mary's Hospital, Portsmouth, in October last year weighing just one pound and measuring only five inches.

She has never left hospital and has stopped breathing three times due to serious heart and lung problems. She is fed through a tube because she cannot suck from a bottle and needs a constant supply of oxygen.

Paediatricians say she will not survive beyond infancy and even then will never leave hospital because of the terrible problems she faces.

The Trust has told Mr Wyatt, 33, and his 23-year-old wife - who is expecting their third child - that, in the event of another crisis for Charlotte, it is prepared to keep her alive long enough for them to attend at her bedside, but insists it would be "against the child's interests" artificially to resuscitate her.

The Trust says that, although parents can decide what treatment is given to their child, they cannot insist on inappropriate treatment which would bring more suffering than benefits.

The couple, both committed Christians, of Westminster Way, Buckland, Portsmouth, have visited Charlotte in hospital every day, sometimes with their 20-month-old son Daniel. Mr Wyatt has three children, aged 13, 12 and eight, from a previous marriage.

During the two-day court hearing, the judge will hear detailed evidence from medical specialists about Charlotte's chances of survival.

Charlotte's individual interests are being protected by lawyers for the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (CAFCASS).

David Lock, counsel for the Trust, told the judge the case was "essentially non-adversarial".

"It isn't a case of either party winning or losing," he said.

"It concerns the vexed issue of the best treatment to be provided for what all the experts agree is an extremely ill baby with life-limiting conditions.

"Both the clinicians and the parents want the best for Charlotte, but there is a divergence about what would be in her best interests."

The parents accepted that the care given to their daughter so far had been of the highest standard and there was no criticism of the hospital.

"But, despite many hours of meetings and soul-searching on both sides, there is no agreement and the court has the unenviable job of deciding what is in the best interests of the child," said Mr Lock.

Suggested Topics
News
Richard Dawkins dedicated his book 'The Greatest Show on Earth' to Josh Timonen
newsThat's Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome
Life and Style
fashionLidl to launch a new affordable fashion range
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
music
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
News
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014
peopleTim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
News
people
Life and Style
techApp to start sending headlines, TV clips and ads to your phone
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift crawls through the legs of twerking dancers in her 'Shake It Off' music video
musicEarl Sweatshirt thinks so
Life and Style
tech
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home
Lauded therapist Harley Mille still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Lauded therapist still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Australian Harley Miller is as frustrated by court delays as she is with the idiosyncrasies of immigration law
Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world. But could his predictions of war do the same?

Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world...

But could his predictions of war do the same?
Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs: 'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs
Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities, but why?

Young at hort

Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities. But why are so many people are swapping sweaty clubs for leafy shrubs?
Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award: 'making a quip as funny as possible is an art'

Beyond a joke

Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

Sadly though, the Lawrence of Arabia star is not around to lend his own critique
Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire: The joy of camping in a wetland nature reserve and sleeping under the stars

A wild night out

Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire offers a rare chance to camp in a wetland nature reserve
Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition: It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans

Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition

It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans
Besiktas vs Arsenal: Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie

Besiktas vs Arsenal

Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie
Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

As the Northern Irishman prepares for the Barclays, he finds time to appear on TV in the States, where he’s now such a global superstar that he needs no introduction
Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to Formula One

Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to F1

The 16-year-old will become the sport’s youngest-ever driver when he makes his debut for Toro Rosso next season
Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

But belated attempts to unite will be to no avail if the Sunni caliphate remains strong in Syria, says Patrick Cockburn
Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I would end up killing myself in jail'

Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I'd end up killing myself in jail'

Following last week's report on prison suicides, the former inmate asks how much progress we have made in the 50 years since the abolition of capital punishment