Dying boy's parents lose palliative care court fight

High Court Image copyright AP

A terminally ill boy should be moved to a palliative care regime proposed by specialists despite his parents' objections, a judge has ruled.

The Family Division of the High Court said the boy should receive care to minimise suffering in his final months.

He was diagnosed with bone cancer in 2012. His parents had argued that doctors could still treat his symptoms.

He is expected to live for three to six months, and specialists said "curative treatment" was no longer possible.

Doctors told the court the boy should have "palliative chemotherapy" to reduce pain, and medication.

But his mother, a former nurse, said she thought the tumour was slow growing, and was worried about the side effects of chemotherapy and a "cocktail of painkillers".

The boy's parents had appealed for their "beautiful" son's "right to life", and his father wept as the judge outlined the decision.

'Best interests'

Mr Justice MacDonald said the case was "unbearably sad" and said the youngster's parents were suffering "unimaginable agony".

But the judge said he was satisfied the boy's prognosis was terminal and that pain could become unbearable if not treated.

The treatment put forward by doctors was in the boy's best interests, he added.

The hearing was not open to the public and the judge banned the reporting of anything which might identify the boy, including his age, address or name of hospital authority with responsibility for care.

Mr Justice MacDonald said: "Neither the mother or the father in this case are anything other than loving parents who are simply trying to stay upright in the darkening storm which has engulfed their family."