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Judge rules dying woman should not be treated

Ms X had repeatedly made her wishes clear and had the support of her doctors

9 October 2014

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A judge in a Court of Protection case has ruled that a woman (Ms X) suffering from anorexia and alcohol dependency should not be forcibly given medical treatment which may keep her alive.

Ms X had made an advance decision regards her liver disease where she stated that she did not want to receive further treatment. She also wrote a letter to the Mr Justice Cobb, presiding over the case, telling him she is prepared to die and expressed a wish to spend whatever time she had left with her family.

Ms X had been suffering from the eating disorder, anorexia nervosa, for the past 14 years, and her alcohol dependency had caused "end-stage" and irreversible liver disease - the combination of the two illnesses is unusual and therefore difficult to manage.

Delivering his judgment, Mr Justice Cobb said: "Having fully reviewed the circumstances of this case, and for the reasons discussed above, I have reached the clear conclusion that I should not compel treatment for Ms X's anorexia.

"I hope that Ms X will nonetheless realise that it would be of enormous benefit to her to access treatments (at least in the form of palliative care, nursing support and dietetic guidance) which may improve the quality of the limited life she has left to her, if not to render more dignified its passing."

In her letter to the judge, Ms X wrote: "I am fully aware of what is wrong with my health and the effects of my wish to refuse treatments will have upon it. Whatever time I have left I just want to live each day alongside my granddad and [siblings], who are my world.

"I want them to know 'me' rather than this illness and to have some nice memories of our time together. I want to be able to look forward each day to doing 'nice' things like some of my hobbies […] and socialising with my friends."


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Vulnerable Clients