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
News
election 2015The 10 best quotes of the campaign
News
A caravan being used as a polling station in Ford near Salisbury, during the 2010 election
election 2015The Independent's guide to get you through polling day
News
people
Voices
David Blunkett joins the Labour candidate for Redcar Anna Turley on a campaigning visit last month
voicesWhat I learnt from my years in government, by the former Home Secretary David Blunkett
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

Typefaces still matter in the digital age

A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

Crisp sales are in decline

As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

Ronald McDonald the muse

A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
13 best picnic blankets

13 best picnic blankets

Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0 player ratings: Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?

Barcelona vs Bayern Munich player ratings

Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?
Martin Guptill: Explosive New Zealand batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Explosive batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Martin Guptill has smashed early runs for Derbyshire and tells Richard Edwards to expect more from the 'freakish' Brendon McCullum and his buoyant team during their tour of England
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'