Health Insight March 2002: Baby in medical legal battle
Early last month the media reported a case reminiscent of the Siamese twins from Malta. Fourteen-week-old Maria Aziz Al-Rafi was born with Goldenhar syndrome. She has badly disfigured facial features and partially blocked airways. The Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle-upon-Tyne won the right to decide, over and above the wishes of Maria’s parents, what course of treatment the baby needed after she suffered a seizure. Medical experts said Maria needed an urgent tracheotomy to ease her breathing difficulties but her parents were worried about the safety of their daughter. Hospital staff were forced to seek an emergency police protection order after Maria suffered acute respiratory arrest brought on by a complete obstruction of her airway. She was resuscitated and taken to paediatric intensive care. At the High Court in Leeds, Maria’s parents agreed that doctors could carry out any immediate treatment to help her breathe.
Maria is now progressing well and putting on weight. She will need a lengthy series of operations to rebuild her face. Her mother wants the operations to be carried out by a leading surgeon in the US and has set up a fund to try to raise £500,000.
Source: BBC Online, Guardian 6th March
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