Ill patients and legal battles: Famous cases

2018-04-25 22:11
Hospital. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

Hospital. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

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The case of British boy Alfie Evans is the latest in a series of high-profile battles between the family of ill patients and the authorities.

Here are some previous cases from the past fifteen years from Europe and the United States:

Charlotte Wyatt

Charlotte Wyatt was born prematurely in October 2003 with serious brain, lung and kidney damage. She needed a constant supply of oxygen.

While she fought for her life, her parents battled in the courts to require doctors to provide artificial ventilation if her condition worsened.

In 2005 they won a partial victory to stop doctors from refusing to revive their daughter if she stopped breathing.

Charlotte, still in a quasi-vegetative state, is now aged 14.

Vincent Lambert

Lambert, 41, in a vegetative state, has been the centre of years of legal battles that have torn his family apart.

Lambert was left severely brain damaged and quadriplegic as a result of a 2008 road accident, but has been kept alive through artificial nutrition and hydration.

The legal drama began in January 2014, when Lambert's doctors, backed by his wife Rachel and six of his eight siblings, decided to stop his nutrition and hydration in line with France's passive euthanasia law, enacted in 2005.

However his deeply devout Catholic parents, half brother and sister won an urgent court application to stop the plan.

The case continues to wind its way through France's legal labyrinthe.

Charlie Gard

Charlie Gard was born in August 2016 with a rare form of mitochondrial disease that causes progressive muscle weakness, including in his organs.

The British boy died on July 28, 2017, one week short of his first birthday, after doctors withdrew life support treatment.

Gard's parents had fought a five-month legal battle for him to be taken to the United States for experimental treatment.

They lost a series of appeals in British courts and the European Court of Human Rights.

His case drew sympathy from many, including US President Donald Trump and Pope Francis, while 350 000 people signed a petition demanding he be allowed to go to the United States.

Eluana Englaro

The Italian woman at the centre of a right-to-die drama that gripped Italy had been in a coma for 17 years since a road accident when she died aged 38 on February 9, 2009.

Doctors in Udine, northeast Italy, stopped feeding Englaro after a 10-year legal battle, during which the Vatican and most of the political right, including conservative Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, campaigned against her family's wish for a mercy killing.

Her story inspired the Italian filmmaker Marco Bellochio in his "La belle endormie", staring Isabelle Huppert as Englaro.

Terri Schiavo

The severely brain-damaged woman at the centre of an acrimonious legal battle over her fate even drew in the US president at the time, George W. Bush.

She died aged 41 on March 31, 2005, 13 days after her feeding tube was removed and following a seven-year legal battle.

Schiavo had been in what doctors called a "persistent vegetative state" for 15 years, after heart failure in 1990.

Her parents – backed by Bush and an array of religious conservative groups – had fought for their daughter to be kept alive, while her husband Michael Schiavo pleaded, ultimately successfully, for her to be allowed to die.

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