Family of Muslim man fighting for his right to live
21 August 2012
A Muslim family are battling in the High Court to prevent a father’s life support from being turned off.
The 55-year-old man, known only as L, was left severely brain damaged in a persistent vegetative state after his third cardiac arrest five weeks ago. Doctors feel that L has “no meaningful prospect of further recovery”.
However, the man’s family do not wish to let him die, as they feel it is “too soon”, and that L would not wish to have his life support turned off. The family contends that they have seen “some degree of responsiveness”, despite testimony from a senior doctor claiming that no member of staff had witnessed any meaningful movement.
The family also argue that L would want to fight for his life for as long as was possible, due to his faith in Islam. The family claim that L fought to have his own father’s life prolonged to fight against a long illness, and one of his sons added that Muslims “believe that you prolong life as far as you can go and that you actively take every step to so do”. He added that his father would give a look of “disapproval and sadness” whenever he heard about cases of life support being switched off.
L could continue to live on life support for several months, as his condition is stable. However, the hospital caring for L says that keeping him alive would not be a prolongation of his life – rather, it would be a “prolongation of death and lack of dignity”.
Several experts of have expressed the belief that L has a very low chance of recovering to even a minimal level of consciousness, and say that keeping him alive would cause him great discomfort, if he is still capable of feeling, as his body deteriorates.
The Court of Protection must now decide whether the hospital must take every step to keep him alive, or whether they should only provide care to reduce his discomfort.