Grandmother at centre of court fight is ‘most complicated’ Covid patient – judge

A grandmother at the centre of a life-support treatment battle is the “most complicated” Covid-19 patient in the world, a judge has said.

The woman, in her 50s, has been left brain damaged and paralysed from the neck down after contracting Covid-19, Mr Justice Hayden has heard.

Specialists treating her at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge say life-support treatment should end.

Relatives disagree and say the woman, who cannot speak and is on a ventilator, should be given more time.

Mr Justice Hayden is considering evidence at a trial in the Court of Protection, where judges oversee hearings centred on adults who lack the mental capacity to make decisions.

He told the hearing on Tuesday: “(She is) the most complicated Covid patient in the world in terms of neurological complications. But we are not dealing with Covid any more.

“What she has got are these profound complications which have attacked every single front in her body.”

Doctors have told the judge there is nothing they can do to make “any aspect of her condition better” and say life-support treatment is causing her distress and adding to her “burden”.

They think her life expectancy can be measured in months and moving her to a palliative care regime would enable her to die peacefully and without distress.

Mr Justice Hayden said it was the first time a judge had considered an end-of-life case as a result of Covid-19.

He has heard how the woman went into hospital with symptoms of Covid-19 late in 2020.

He was told she had underlying health problems including diabetes, and was overweight.

Barrister Katie Gollop QC, representing hospital bosses, told the judge the woman had gone into hospital on an “emergency basis”.

She said the woman’s case appeared to be “unique”. The woman was “almost entirely paralysed” and had “severe” cognitive impairment.

One specialist said the woman had complications not “described” in the UK before.

The judge on Wednesday heard evidence from the woman’s adult children and sister.

“I know she would not want us to give up on her,” the sister told the judge. “I do still feel that my sister would want us to exhaust all the avenues to support her.”

Mr Justice Hayden said the woman was going to die, and the question was how and when, and told relatives: “That is the dilemma for me, as it is for all of you.

“She is not going to get better – it’s a matter of months.

“It’s a really, really hard case. It’s a really hard situation.”