Court rules treatment should be withdrawn for brain-damaged girl, two

Last hope crushed for tragic toddler: Parents of brain-damaged girl, 2, at the centre of right-to-life battle are left devastated after European Court of Human Rights rules treatment should be withdrawn

  • The parents of Alta Fixsler, two, were left devastated amid right-to-life court case
  • The European Court of Human Rights agreed her treatment should be withdrawn
  • Alta has no ‘conscious awareness’ and is in pain, her doctors in Manchester said
  • But her parents said their Jewish faith means they cannot turn her life support off

The parents of a brain-damaged two-year-old at the centre of a right-to-life court battle were devastated last night after the European Court of Human Rights agreed her treatment should be withdrawn.

Alta Fixsler has no ‘conscious awareness’ and experiences constant pain, according to her doctors at a Manchester hospital.

The High Court ruled in May that she should be allowed to die but her ultra-Orthodox parents say their Jewish faith means they cannot agree to her life support being turned off.

They want to take her to the United States or Israel for care and, after failing to overturn the decision at the Supreme Court, sought to take their case to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).

The parents of brain-damaged Alta Fixsler (pictured), two, at the centre of a court battle were devastated after the European Court of Human Rights agreed treatment should be withdrawn

However, yesterday their lawyers confirmed that appeal had also been rejected.

In a letter sent to the Fixslers on Monday, the ECHR said it agreed with the UK court’s decision to allow the withdrawal of life-sustaining treatment and place their daughter on end-of-life care.

Alta’s father has joint Israeli-US citizenship, and last week the State Department in Washington granted a visa for Alta to travel there for assessment and possible treatment after senior senators intervened.

Speaking on behalf of the Fixsler family, David Foster, partner at law firm Moore Barlow, said: ‘The ECHR’s decision is devastating for Alta’s parents who only want to see every option explored to try and save their daughter’s life.

‘Foreign nationals who have been offered care overseas should have the encouragement to explore these alternatives – preventing them from doing so is not in their best interests and is setting a worrying precedent.’

The family’s friend Yossi Gestetner told the BBC: ‘We’re not dealing here with something that doesn’t feel pain. 

Alta’s ultra-Orthodox parents say their Jewish faith means they cannot agree to her life support being turned off. Pictured: Alta with her brother Tzvi and father Abraham

‘We’re dealing with a human being that’s alive, that has feelings, and therefore has the potential of a better future, if given the right care.’

But Mr Justice MacDonald said in May that taking the British-born two-year-old overseas for treatment would ‘expose Alta to further pain and discomfort’ for ‘no medical benefit’.

The decision carries echoes of the plight of Alfie Evans whose case provoked intense public sympathy in 2018 when a judge ruled doctors could withdraw life support against the wishes of his parents after concluding nothing more could be done to treat him.

Pope Francis expressed his support for the youngster’s parents, while the Italian government granted Alfie citizenship amid lobbying for a transfer to a Vatican-operated hospital. 

But their appeals were in vain and Alfie died aged 23 months four days after his life support was switched off.

Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust said that it recognised ‘this is an incredibly difficult and distressing time for Alta’s family and we will continue to support them’. 

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