Dad's plea: don't let doctors kill our ill baby

October 3, 2004
The Sun-Herald

The father of a desperately ill baby said yesterday that he believed in miracles as he pleaded with a High Court judge to give his daughter the chance to live.

Darren Wyatt, 33, said 11-month-old Charlotte was a "fighter" who deserved an opportunity to grow up and "go outside and see the trees".

"Everything should be done to keep her alive," he said. "When you get to the stage when you grow to love someone, you can't just throw them away like a bad egg."

Mr Wyatt's wife, Debbie, 23, sat in tears in court as he criticised doctors for seeking an order that would allow them not to resuscitate their daughter the next time she develops life-threatening breathing difficulties.

Charlotte was born three months premature, weighing just 400 grams and measuring only 12.7 centimetres. She has not left hospital, is fed by a tube 21 hours a day and has stopped breathing three times because of serious heart and lung problems.

Portsmouth Hospital's NHS Trust believes she has "no feelings other than continuing pain" and argue that it would be "futile and cruel" to prolong her life artificially should her condition deteriorate again.

It says she is deaf, blind and unable to react to familiar faces and claims that the chances of her surviving the next 12 months are "virtually zero".

But Mr Wyatt, a Christian who has a disabled son from his first marriage, said he disagreed with doctors who said that Charlotte's life was "dominated by pain and suffering" and "without much joy or fulfilment".

He recalled moments when he and his wife were able to take their daughter out of her plastic box, cuddle her and rock her to sleep.

"Last week when we cuddled her and held her hands she gripped my finger and you could see the response," he said. "She knows we are her parents. I don't think she wanted to give in at all. If she could last a little longer, even just for another year, it would give us more time to experience that bonding with her.

"I believe in miracles. I believe she has a chance. She is a fighter and if the man upstairs says this person should live, then [she] should live."

Mr Wyatt said he supported the opinion of two doctors who said that the next time her condition deteriorated Charlotte should receive a tracheostomy - the insertion of a breathing tube through the throat - followed by five days' ventilation.

He told Mr Justice Hedley that he was willing to sign a contract to the effect that he and his wife would let Charlotte slip away if, at the end of five days, there was nothing more that could be done to save her.

David Wolfe, counsel for the family, told the judge that Mr and Mrs Wyatt were not "unrealistic or unreasonable".

David Lock, the hospital trust's counsel, said the case centred on what was best for Charlotte, a "very, very sick child trapped in a body racked with pain and heading inexorably towards an early death".

The judge is expected to give his judgement on Thursday.

The Daily Telegraph, London