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UK parents lose court appeal to keep baby on life support

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The parents of a baby declared brain dead by doctors have lost the latest round of a legal battle in Britain’s courts to keep him on life support

LONDON —
The parents of a baby declared brain dead by doctors have lost the latest round of a legal battle in Britain’s courts to keep him on life support.

Britain’s Court of Appeal on Friday rejected an attempt by Karwan Ali and Shokhan Namiq to overturn a High Court order that doctors could stop treating their infant son, Midrar Ali.

The baby was starved of oxygen due to complications at birth, and was born not breathing and without a heartbeat. He has been on a ventilator ever since.

Judges at both courts agreed with doctors that Midrar Ali had experienced “irreversible brain stem death” by Oct. 1, when he was 14 days old. Three appeals judges ruled Friday that doctors could lawfully “cease to mechanically ventilate” the baby.

One of the judges, Andrew McFarlane, said Midrar Ali no longer had a “brain that is recognizable as such.”

“There is no basis for contemplating that any further tests would result in a different outcome,” he said.

The baby’s parents, who live in Manchester in northwest England, do not accept that his condition is irreversible and want the courts to consider opinions from foreign experts.

Their lawyer, David Foster, said the couple was considering an appeal to the Supreme Court.

The case is a latest in a series of legal challenges by parents to doctors in Britain’s state-funded National Health Service.

The cases often become flashpoints for debates on the rights of children and parents, the responsibilities of hospitals and the role of the state.

Under British law, it is common for courts to intervene when parents and doctors disagree on the treatment of a child. In such cases, the rights of the child take primacy over the parents’ right to decide what’s best for their offspring.

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