(Court of Protection, Peter Jackson J, 23 March 2012)
The 55-year-old man was in a permanent vegetative state and the NHS Trust sought a declaration that it was lawful and in the man's best interests to withdraw active medical treatment. The application was supported by the man's family and friends, the care team and expert witnesses.
The man's condition was caused by complications during surgery when he suffered cardiac arrest which led to irreparable brain damage. Prior to surgery the man had written a letter which he gave to his sister-in-law in terms that should he be in the state he now found himself he would consent to the withdrawal of treatment if it would only prolong his life and there were no chance of recovery.
Under the Mental Capacity Act 2005 the letter did not comply with the very strict requirements of a living will or advanced directive, however, the quality of evidence was uniformly high and it was in his best interests to make the declaration sought.