[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Wednesday, 8 March 2006, 17:37 GMT
Baby's dad says 'don't play God'
Baby
Baby MB is not thought to be mentally impaired
The father of a severely disabled baby at the centre of a landmark High Court right-to-life case says it is up to God to "give life and take it away".

Baby MB, who cannot be named, has spinal muscular atrophy - a genetic condition which leads to almost total paralysis - and cannot breathe unaided.

His family are fighting a hospital's bid for permission to withdraw ventilation from the 17-month-old.

Doctors say it would be better to let him die as his life is "intolerable".

He likes Barney, Toy Story 1 and 2, Nemo, Shark Tale, Shrek 1 and 2
Baby MB's mother

But the child's father told the court he did not think it was right for anyone to decide if the baby should live or die.

He said: "As a Muslim I believe that no one knows exactly when people will die.

"It was God who gave us life and God will take it whatever the situation, good condition, sad, or whatever your condition.

"You've got a certain time to die - that's what I believe."

Counsel for the hospital Huw Lloyd cross-examining said if it was not for modern technology and ventilator support his son would be dead.

'Let God decide'

The father answered: "I accept that but as I said before, we do our best.

"We do our best, so each one do his best and let God decide."

Earlier the child's mother said she believed Baby MB, who has been in hospital since he was seven weeks old, has a "quality of life worth living".

"Just because he is in a hospital doesn't mean he has a poor quality of life, because his family is there," she said.

She said he had favourite television programmes, and showed his like or dislike for them by either focusing on them or going to sleep.

She added: "He likes Barney, Toy Story 1 and 2, Nemo, Shark Tale, Shrek 1 and 2."

Asked by her QC, Charles Foster, what he did not like, she said: "Soaps such as Eastenders. I do put them on and he'll look away or go to sleep. He doesn't like the news."

'Expressive'

She claimed he also liked certain nursery rhymes which his brother and sister sing to him.

And she said that when her son felt pain he would cry, although it was not possible to hear him because of the ventilation tube.

"His eyes go red a little bit and tears will come down," she said.

She argued if he was given an operation which might allow him to breathe alone - a tracheotomy - his life would improve.

Genetic condition

Baby MB cannot chew or swallow and is fed through a tube.

And while he is not believed to be mentally impaired, he can only move his eyebrows.

His mother told the court that despite his very paralysed face, he expressed himself by moving his eyebrows and attempting to smile.

His condition, which affects one in 6,400 newborns, is incurable and is set to lead to almost full paralysis.

It is a recessive genetic condition passed to a baby when both its parents carry a certain gene.

'Intolerable life'

Medics from the hospital caring for him have told the court they believe the invasive ventilation method they use to keep him alive caused him discomfort.

One unnamed doctor said he believed Baby MB had an "intolerable life", and that he was troubled by the life-sustaining treatment he had been obliged to give to the child for some time.

Last week the judge, Mr Justice Holman who is hearing the case, said it could be a landmark one, as it was the first time a court had been asked to make a life or death ruling on a child who has near or full cognitive function.

The hearing has been adjourned until Friday when lawyers will make their final submissions to the judge.

The judge said he would not be ruling on the case this week.




BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
Hear the views of the different parties involved in the case



SEE ALSO:
Life of sick baby 'intolerable'
07 Mar 06 |  Health
Charlotte 'continuing to improve'
02 Mar 06 |  Hampshire


RELATED INTERNET LINKS:
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


PRODUCTS AND SERVICES

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific