Exclusive: High Court judge orders life-saving bone marrow transplant to go ahead for three-year-old boy against father's will

Child was born in an Arab country and has spent the last two years in a leading English children's hospital

Social Affairs Correspondent

A three-year-old boy whose father tried to prevent him receiving life-saving hospital treatment will have a bone marrow transplant on Thursday following an emergency ruling by a High Court judge.

The boy, known only as AA, was born in an Arab country and has spent the last two years in a leading English children's hospital. AA's immune system was "effectively deleted" last week in preparation for a transplant, leaving him at fatal risk of infection.

His father had originally consented to the operation, but at the last minute withdrew his permission, insisting that his son instead be flown home to be with him. Such a move would "almost certainly" kill the toddler, who is being kept in a special sterile room, lawyers for the hospital said.

The boy's bone marrow donor is his mother, who is estranged from his father. She wanted the procedure to go ahead and was unable to attend court because she was giving blood in preparation for the operation.

The case was heard by Mr Justice Mostyn in the Family Court at the Royal Courts of Justice in London. Justice Mostyn's decision to order a caesarean section for a woman with severe bipolar in the Court of Protection last year has been causing controversy this week after details of it emerged in the press.

Justice Mostyn said there were no facilities for bone marrow transplants in the Arabic country AA is from and that, "even if there were, he cannot be flown there as it is highly likely he would contract an infection and die". He concluded:"This child is my ward and I cannot contemplate that."

The transplant is necessary to alleviate a number of serious conditions which were not specified in court. A lawyer acting for the hospital said that having had his immune system effectively removed, AA was "in a perilous state and highly vulnerable."

He added: "He is liable to contract an infection of which he will almost certainly die. The only way to get him out of this situation is to go ahead with the transplant."

Previously AA's father had been so enthusiastic about a transplant that he flew several of his children to the UK to be tested as donors. The toddler's sister turned out to be an almost perfect match, but their father decided he no longer wanted her to make a donation.

The hospital's lawyer said: "The father thinks his son doesn't need this treatment and should be returned to [the Arab country]... He has provided no medical reason and no convincing ethical reason why this treatment should not take place."

Lawyers spoke to AA's father and made him aware of the hearing. He told the hospital's solicitor that he had "never agreed" to the transplant and said lawyers from his country's embassy might attend the hearing, but none appeared.

The mother's bone marrow is a good match to her son's but is not as close as his sister's. Doctors now believe it is his best hope for survival.

The children's hospital applied to the Family Court to intervene on Monday, when the judge ruled that the child would now become the ward of the court. The second hearing today was to decide his treatment.

Justice Mostyn said: "The evidence seems to me that the father had, in effect, consented by sending over members of his family to see if they could be matching donors."

The judge said that the court could intervene in the case because although AA originated from another country, he had been living in an English hospital since November 2011. He added: "In my judgement he is habitually resident in this country and in these circumstances the court has jurisdiction over him."

Summarising clicians' evidence, Justice Mostyn said: "The transplant from his mother will take place tomorrow. If it does not take place it is almost certain that AA will soon die."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
11 best bedside tables

11 best bedside tables

It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

Italy vs England player ratings

Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

An underdog's tale of making the most of it

Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis
Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police

Steve Bunce: Inside Boxing

Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat