Mother of brain-damaged girl plans appeal after losing life-support fight

The mother of a five-year-old girl who has suffered brain damage and is in a vegetative state plans to appeal after losing a life-support treatment fight in the High Court.

Mr Justice Poole ruled on Friday that Pippa Knight should be allowed to die, following a trial in the Family Division of the High Court in London.

But lawyers representing her mother, Paula Parfitt, 41, of Strood, Kent, said she will continue her fight and wants Court of Appeal judges to consider the case.

Specialists treating Pippa Knight at the Evelina Children’s Hospital in London say life-support treatment should end.

Pippa Knight legal case
Pippa Knight legal case

Hospital bosses had asked Mr Justice Poole to rule that ending treatment, and allowing Pippa to die, would be lawful and in her best interests.

Pippa’s mother disagreed.

Ms Parfitt wants Pippa to be placed on a portable ventilator and allowed home.

Mr Justice Poole, who heard evidence at a trial in December, ruled on Friday that life-support treatment should end and said Pippa should be allowed to die.

The judge said the case was “heart-rending” and paid tribute to Ms Parfitt’s resilience and devotion.

Pippa was born on April 20 2015 and initially developed normally, he said.

But in December 2016 she became unwell and began to suffer seizures.

Specialists diagnosed a rare condition – acute necrotising encephalopathy.

The judge said the youngster has no awareness of her environment.

Pippa Knight legal case
Pippa Knight legal case

“Ms Parfitt has fought as hard for Pippa as any parent could,” he said.

“Responsibility for the decisions in this case lies with the court, not with her.

“My conclusion is that continued mechanical ventilation is contrary to Pippa’s best interests.”

He could not “give weight” to Ms Parfitt’s view that home care would improve Pippa’s condition.

The judge said that view is “at odds” with the unanimous view of the clinicians and medical experts.

“It is agreed by all the medical witnesses that Pippa has no conscious awareness of her environment or interactions with others,” he said.

“Therefore, there would be no benefit to her from being in a home bedroom as opposed to a hospital unit.

“Family members may be able to spend more time with her at home in a more peaceful and welcoming environment, but she would not be aware of their visits or of the benefit to others.

“She would not be aware of any of the changes in her environment or in her care regime.”