UK hospital wants to cut Polish man’s life support and harvest his organs

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4 Min Read

An English hospital has made the final determination to harvest the organs of a Pole who had suffered a heart attack in November 2020. The man is currently in a state of minimal awareness, can open his eyes and reacts to stimuli.

A British court has maintained the decision of the hospital, which is why nutrition and hydration of the man may be ceased as early as Friday. Polish Ordo Iuris Institute for Legal Culture has demanded a provisional decision on the matter from the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The man was sent to a hospital in November 2020 after suffering from a heart attack. A few days later, the hospital’s authorities made the decision to use his organs for transplantation.

In December 2020, a British court decreed that the man’s life support should be cut off, but there were appeals to the decision. The life support equipment had previously been disconnected twice from the man — for two days and then later for five. It was reconnected first due to the motion of appeal to the court’s decision, which was rejected, and later due to new evidence presented by the family. According to the man’s mother, during the family’s recent visit to the hospital, the man was able to cry, move his head, react to voices and therefore, they argued that he is not in a coma or vegetative state. Nevertheless, the verdict of the court was maintained by the Court of Appeal, which still gave the man’s family time to explore other solutions before ending his life support, including using international measures by Jan. 7, 2021. The hospital’s authorities have argued that the man is in a vegetative state. Other neurologists, however, have evaluated his situation differently. They argue that the Pole remains in a minimal state of awareness — he can breathe independently and reacts to the presence of his family.

In Ordo Iuris’s demand for a decision from the UN Committee, the organization has pointed out that Article 10 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities ensures a right to live to everyone, including people with disabilities. This regulation also does not evaluate this right depending on the “quality” of life of a person. Article 22, on the other hand, confirms the right of the disabled to have their private and family lives, as well as their reputation and honor be respected. Ordo Iuris also pointed to Article 25, which underlines the right of disabled persons to reach the highest possible state of life. “Human life is a value protected in every condition. Attempts to heal and rehabilitate people who independently breathe, and their condition, according to the opinion of neurological experts, may experience far-reaching improvement, cannot be considered futile therapy. The approach towards bio-ethical issues clearly differs in this case in the United Kingdom and Poland. The law must however protect fundamental values, such as human life,” said Doctor Filip Furman, the director of the Ordo Iuris Center for Social Studies and Bio-ethics.

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