Family of Catholic man on life support should end the fight to keep him alive, say judges

(Photo: Unsplash/Daan Stevens)

Appeals court judges have urged the Catholic family of a comatose man to allow him to die.

The family, who have not been named, have been supported by the Christian Legal Centre in their bid to prevent doctors from withdrawing fluids and nutrition. 

The middle-aged man from Poland, who also cannot be named, suffered brain damage after having a heart attack last November. 

In December, the Court of Protection agreed with bosses at University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust that allowing him to die was in his best interests.

Their position is supported by the man's wife, who said he would not want to be a burden. 

His mother, sisters and niece disagree because of his Catholic beliefs and have challenged the decision. 

His niece asked the European Court of Human Rights to intervene but judges there refused to grant 'interim relief', the Daily Mail reports.

On Wednesday, judges at the Court of Appeal argued that the family's continued pursuit of legal action was "deeply distressing" to the man's wife and children, and an "assault upon the dignity of this man". 

Lord Justice Peter Jackson said it was the job of judges to ensure that his best interests were not "prejudiced by continued unfounded challenges to lawful decisions".

Lady Justice King said that treatment had been withdrawn and reinstated three times because of continuing litigation.

She agreed that medical treatment should be stopped. 

"It is hard to contemplate the distress which must have been caused to the wife and children of (the man) by the continuation of these proceedings after this court had dismissed the application for permission to appeal from Mr Justice Cohen's original decision that it was in (the man's) best interests for all medical treatment to be withdrawn," she said.