Congressman Chris Smith (NJ – 04) pens letter to UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson urging him to intervene on behalf of an ill Jewish Child the UK government is planning to pull the plug on tomorrow R”L.
Ten years ago, Avraham Fixler got married and started his life with his wife, Chaya. Two years after their marriage, the couple welcomed a son. After another five and half years, they welcomed their daughter Alta was born. This happy occasion, however, was marred by misfortune. Tragically, Alta was deprived of oxygen at birth, for close to a half hour. This lead to severe brain damage, and Alta began her life attached to a ventilator
At the time, doctors told the Fixlers that it was unlikely that their daughter would survive for 24 hours. Boruch Hashem, their predictions proved wrong, and Alta, beloved and cherished by her family, survived. Unfortunately, Alta is unresponsive and severely limited in her physical capabilities. The doctors said that because she is unresponsive, she has no quality of life, but the Fixlers made sure that they took care of her and gave her the highest quality of life they could under the circumstances.
When after several months, they were able to get her off a ventilator and onto oxygen, the Fixler’s were very happy. At around a year old, the Fixler’s prepared to bring Alta home for the first time. They had prepared the house for her and made sure that they would have everything required to tend to Alta’s needs. This included the oxygen tanks she would need to maintain her breathing. However, on a Motzei Shabbos, Avraham got a call from the hospital saying that they would be moving Alta from the NICU to the ICU at the pediatric hospital.
There was supposed to be a meeting to discuss the move of location and to arrange for her continued care, but then Avraham received a call that she was being moved, to a location where there would be no doctors, just a nursing staff, in direct contradiction to what had been previously discussed and arranged.
She was moved to a regular ward, attended to without the experience or equipment that would be in an NICU. Two weeks later, her condition had deteriorated, and she needed to go back on a ventilator. In Avaraham’s opinion, this was the direct result of being moved to a ward where she couldn’t be taken care of properly. He points out that currently his daughter is on CPAP level, the lowest level of breathing assistance provided by a ventilator. However, since that point, the hospital said that Alta would not being going off the ventilator. They told the Fixler’s should prepare other plans, and that bringing Alta home was no longer an option.
Avraham suggested that he bring his daughter home, and that he would provide his own ventilator and nursing staff. He knew that his good friends in the Manchester community would help him out with this endeavor. But at the next meeting the doctors began to tell Avraham that his daughter was suffering a lot of pain. Avraham responded by saying that he knows his daughter well, could recognize that she was not suffering, and that no doctor had told him up until this point that his daughter was feeling pain
It was then Avraham realized what their plan was. Although the hospital’s staff had feigned a willingness to cooperate and claimed that they were trying to work on a plan, in fact they were working to establish a legal basis to rachmana litzlan remove his daughter from life support. The best legal reasoning for such a decision is pain and quality of life, so to make this claim exactly when she had gone back on a ventilator was the strategy of the medical staff all along. They claimed that it was visually obvious that Alta was suffering but Avraham insisted that his daughter was not reacting with pain to any element of her care. Medical experts from the US reviewed scans of the girls brain and said that she is not suffering any pain at all.
The hospital and its advisory boardthen went to court, arguing that Alta should be removed from the ventilator. The case was heard in the high court of London from May 19 through May 21. The two sides spoke on the first two days. The Fixler’s made three major points in their defense to the court. They argued that the religious considerations of the family ought to be considered. Additionally, both the Fixlers and their daughter are not UK citizens, and therefore the UK does not have jurisdiction to make such a momentous decision for them. Finally, they argued that the family ultimately should be able to have a say in what happens in their child’s life.
The deliberations and decision came down on the third day of the trial. Ultimately the judge said while that he was not fully convinced that the doctors had proven that the child was suffering, he felt he should side with the medical professionals. Despite all the arguments about jurisdiction, citizenship, religious considerations and everything else, the judge has ruled that Alta Fixler’s life should end.
The decision came as a horrible blow to the Fixlers. There is very little recourse for the family. Ordinarily, there would be hopes of overturning the decision on appeal. But In a cruel, Kafkaesque parody of justice, under UK law, a request for an appeal in this case must be made from the same judge who ruled against the Fixlers originally.
Another option is to ask the court of appeals, but in that case the appellant must provide a new reason, or a variation on his original reason, and the Fixlers say there is not much that can be changed about their original heartfelt plea.
A last-ditch hope is to make the appeal that if the child should be repatriated to Israel due to her citizenship. He has sought help from medical experts in the USA such as Chayim arichim. There are a few hospitals in Israel that have already said they would be happy to take on the Alta and provide for her care.
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