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Last Updated: Tuesday, 5 October, 2004, 09:10 GMT 10:10 UK
Don't let baby die, pleads father
Charlotte Wyatt with her parents
Darren Wyatt believes his daughter should be given every chance
The father of a seriously ill premature baby has pleaded with the High Court not to allow doctors to let her die.

Charlotte Wyatt weighed just one pound when she was born 11 months ago and has serious heart and lung problems.

Doctors want permission not to revive her if she stops breathing, saying it is not in Charlotte's best interests.

But Darren Wyatt, 32, from Portsmouth, said she was a "fighter" and everything should be done for her. The judge has reserved judgement until Thursday.

During the second day of the hearing on Friday, Mr Wyatt said: "When you get to the stage when you grow to love someone, you can't just throw them away like a bad egg and say you will have a different egg."

With his wife, Debbie, 23, in tears, he told the judge about how they had held their daughter recently.

"I held Charlotte's hand and she gripped my finger. She knows who we are and that we are her parents."

And Mr Wyatt, a committed Christian, added: "If the man upstairs says this person should live, then this person should live."

Debbie Wyatt
It has all been very difficult for us
Debbie Wyatt, Charlotte's mother

He conceded that, if the time came when the baby was really suffering, he would have to change his mind.

He also told the court one of his three older children from a previous marriage was a nine-year-old boy who was disabled by having suffered from tumours.

Despite his problems, he could walk and talk and went to school, said Mr Wyatt.

He said he appreciated Charlotte would be much more disabled, but she should be able to have some life.

But the medical staff treating her say it is not in her best interests to resuscitate her if she stops breathing again. She has already stopped three times.

However, one expert medical witness has said treatment should continue until the parents agreed with doctors.

The consultant paediatrician said parents in such awful situations often agreed to the withdrawal of life support after realising that prolonging life was futile.

Suffering

The doctor, who has been given anonymity like all the medical witnesses in the case, said Charlotte should be ventilated by way of a tracheostomy - the insertion of a breathing tube through the throat - so further discussions could take place between parents and doctors.

Mr Wyatt said he was willing "to sign a contract" to the effect that he and his wife would let Charlotte go if, at the end of five days following a tracheostomy, there was nothing more that could be done.

Charlotte was born when her mother was 26 weeks pregnant, has never left hospital and is fed through a tube as she cannot suck from a bottle.

She also needs a constant supply of oxygen.

David Lock, counsel for the hospital, part of the Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust, said a doctor had said she was "living in a plastic box" and that her life would be "dominated by pain and suffering".

Mr Lock summarised the trust consultants' findings by saying: "They are of the view that Charlotte has life-limiting conditions and that, despite their best efforts, she has no feelings other than continuing pain.

"Her quality of life is both terrible and permanent and they cannot see a way in which it would significantly improve."

Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust says that while parents can decide what treatment is given to their child, they cannot insist on inappropriate treatment which would bring more suffering than benefits.

The couple have stressed that they maintain a good relationship with the trust, even though they disagree with its views.

The hospital pledged that, if Charlotte needs emergency ventilation before the judges gives his verdict on Thursday, she will receive it.




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