After repeatedly rejecting a couple’s request to give their terminally ill child “a dignified death,” pediatricians at a Galician hospital have backtracked and announced plans to take the 12-year-old off life support.
The announcement comes after the parents of Andrea, a girl with a degenerative, incurable disease, turned to the courts for help. On Friday, a judge requested expert reports to determine whether the decision by Santiago de Compostela’s Hospital Clínico to keep her on life support was “unnecessarily prolonging the child’s agony.”
Medics acknowledged that the child’s health has deteriorated rapidly in recent days, as her parents had been claiming
The matter took a political turn on Sunday, when the Galician health chief was dismissed after publicly supporting the doctors and calling the parents’ attitude “active euthanasia.”
On Monday, doctors announced that they would remove the feeding tube that keeps Andrea alive, and sedate her while maintaining “minimum hydration.”
Medics also acknowledged that the child’s health has deteriorated rapidly in recent days, as her parents had been claiming.
Sources familiar with the case said that the change of attitude shows the hospital’s initial refusal to remove the feeding tube “did not follow strictly medical criteria.”
The same sources added that the new political circumstances – a reference to the recent dismissal – and the hospital’s desire to “avoid a court ruling against it” were key in the decision to change Andrea’s treatment.
But hospital managers say the pediatrics department acted according to existing legislation at all times, and followed “correct clinical procedures.” The decision to take Andrea off life support, they say, is based on the child’s rapidly deteriorating health.
Andrea’s parents had been denouncing this deterioration since she was hospitalized. In June, a thrombocytopenia – a decrease in platelet levels in the blood – worsened Andrea’s condition, causing considerable undernourishment and a rejection of artificial feeding.
Since then, her parents have been demanding a dignified death for their child.
English version by Susana Urra.