CAIRO – The family of a Muslim man in an apparently vegetative state is fighting for a court ruling to give their father a life-saving treatment against doctors’ advice to leave him die.
Muslims in general "believe that you prolong life as far as you can go and that you actively take every step to so do," FL, a son of Patient L, said in a statement cited by The Guardian.
L, a Muslim man from Manchester, suffered a heart attack in mid-July, leaving him with severe brain damage.
He is tube-fed, has a catheter and does not move or respond to verbal command or physical stimulus.
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Doctors say the Muslim man is in a persistent vegetative state and that ventilation or resuscitation would not be in his best interest.
He is in a persistent vegetative state "with minimal prospects of improving any neurological function and no meaningful prospect of further recovery," Claire Watson, representing the Pennine Acute Hospitals Trust, told the court.
"Rather than there being the prolongation of life, there would be the prolongation of death and lack of dignity."
The clinical team of the Muslim patient, who is in his 40s, argues that he has a very poor prognosis.
An intensive care consultant said that L would not “significantly improve”.
Another consultant, who specializes in anesthetics and critical care, estimated there was "less than 1% chance of meaningful recovery".
Any recovery would be very limited and leave L "profoundly physically and mentally impaired," he said.
Doctors opine that the Muslim man is prone to respiratory deterioration, skin and urinary infections and the risk of pneumonia.
The trust wants a court declaration that treatment should be limited to what doctors consider reasonable to maintain the Muslim man’s dignity and to relieve any pain and discomfort he may be feeling, but should not extend to resuscitation or ventilation.
But the Muslim man’s family reject the doctors’ opinion, saying that their father should be given a life-saving treatment if his condition worsens.
"My father was very aware of these issues and often when we heard stories in the media about negligence and decisions to turn off life-support, he would wince his face and give a look of disapproval,” FL said.
“It was a solemn look of disapproval and sadness."
His wife said that her husband was a happy, loving person "and a loving and caring father".
The family want a court ruling after noticing that doctors have placed a "do not resuscitate" notice on his notes.
After objections from the Muslim family, doctors removed the notice.
The family say that their father is responsive as they have observed “some degree of responsiveness”.
They want a court ruling that all steps should be taken to preserve the life of their Muslim faither.
But doctors insist that the family’s views are unrealistic.
Watson, who represents Pennine Acute Hospitals Trust, argued that the patient view's and his family's were highly material but were "not the governing factors".
In Islam, euthanasia, which involves the act of ending the life of an individual suffering from a terminal illness or an incurable condition, is forbidden as a major sin.
As for the suspension of medical treatment via preventing the patient from his due medication which is, from a medical perspective, thought to be useless, this is permissible and sometimes it is even recommended.Thus, the physician can do this for the sake of the patient’s comfort and the relief of his family.