UK

Woman who refused treatment after losing 'sparkle' dies

  • 3 December 2015
  • From the section UK

A woman who rejected life-saving kidney treatment, saying she felt she had lost her "sparkle" and did not want to get old, has died, it has emerged.

The 50-year-old, known only as C, had been at the centre of litigation at the Court of Protection and last month a judge ruled she could refuse dialysis.

A solicitor representing one of her daughters said C died on Saturday.

C had damaged her kidneys when taking a drug overdose in a suicide attempt but did not want to undergo dialysis.

The court, which considers cases relating to sick and vulnerable people, had to decide if she had the mental capacity to refuse treatment, in a case brought by the trust with responsibility for her care.

The hearing was told that C's life "had always revolved around her looks, men and material possessions".

In a statement, one of C's daughters told the court said: "'Recovery' to her does not just relate to her kidney function, but to regaining her 'sparkle' [her expensive, material and looks-oriented social life], which she believes she is too old to regain."

Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption The woman had the mental capacity to refuse dialysis, a judge ruled

Last year, C had been diagnosed with breast cancer, but had refused treatment that would "make her fat".

A long-term relationship had broken down, she had been plunged into debt, and she had tried to kill herself, the court heard.

Her suicide attempt damaged her kidneys but with dialysis, her prognosis would have been positive.

'Sovereign' of own mind

King's College Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, in London, had wanted dialysis forced on C, claiming a "dysfunction of the mind" meant she could not decide for herself.

Mr Justice MacDonald dismissed the hospital trust's application, saying C was "sovereign" of her "own body and mind" and thus "entitled" to make such a decision.

But he said many people may be horrified by C's thinking and that the decision to refuse treatment could be described as "unwise", with some considering it "immoral".

His ruling was made on 13 November and it has emerged that she died 15 days later.

He said she could not be identified. Another judge has since ruled that she had to remain anonymous, even after her death.

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