Mother of brain-damaged girl aims to take treatment fight to Supreme Court

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A single mother who wants doctors to keep treating her brain-damaged five-year-old daughter is planning to ask the Supreme Court to consider the case after losing a Court of Appeal fight.

Paula Parfitt, 41, of Strood, Kent, thinks Pippa Knight should leave hospital and wants specialists to stage a home-care trial.

Doctors treating Pippa, who is in a vegetative state at the Evelina Children’s Hospital in London, disagree and say life-support treatment should end.

A High Court judge earlier this year ruled against Ms Parfitt.

Mr Justice Poole decided that treatment could lawfully end and said Pippa should be allowed to die.

Pippa Knight
Pippa Knight (Family handout/Sinclairslaw/PA)

Lady Justice King, Lord Justice Baker and Lady Justice Elisabeth Laing delivered a ruling on Friday and upheld Mr Justice Poole’s decision.

Ms Parfitt said she was devastated and aimed to continue her fight.

“I am once again devastated as a result of the judgment of the Court of Appeal today, to uphold the decision that it is not in Pippa’s best interests to have a two week trial of portable ventilation to find out whether she could come home,” she said.

“I find it inexplicable that the court and (hospital) trust will not allow Pippa to trial portable ventilation for two weeks to see if she can return home when the hospital allows Pippa to go outside for long periods on portable ventilation with no issue.”

She added: “I will be seeking permission to appeal to the Supreme Court. I want Pippa to have every possible chance to come home and be with her family.”

Paula Parfitt and daughter
Ms Parfitt and her daughter (Handout/PA)

“Every parent dreads the prospect of their child contracting a terminal illness,” said Lord Justice Baker.

“No parent could have done more than Pippa’s mother to care for her child or fight for her future.

“As (Mr Justice Poole) observed at the end of his judgment, however, in this case the law vests responsibility for decisions in the court, not the parent.”

He added: “I am entirely satisfied that (Mr Justice Poole) was entitled to conclude and declare that it was lawful and in Pippa’s best interests that life-sustaining treatment be withdrawn for the reasons he gave in his judgment.”

The other two appeal judges said they agreed.

Campaign group the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children is paying for lawyers to represent Ms Parfitt.

Mr Justice Poole heard evidence at a trial in the Family Division of the High Court in London in December, and delivered a ruling in January.

The judge, who heard that Pippa’s father was dead, described the case as “heart-rending”.

Pippa was born in April 2015 and initially developed normally, but in December 2016 she became unwell and began to suffer seizures, the judge heard.

Doctors had diagnosed acute necrotising encephalopathy.

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