This Baby Girl Cannot Smile, So Judge Rules Her Taken Off Life Support

A baby girl who is seriously ill and unable to smile can be removed from life support, says a British judge. The ruling on Thursday goes against the wishes of social services, who advocated for continuing to treat the 6-month-old baby girl. The judge’s ruling will allow the baby to be relocated to hospice, where she will be allowed to die.

Doctors at Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust have been treating the baby, who suffered brain damage during her birth. Since that premature birth, 14 weeks early, the baby girl has remained at the hospital under the grim prognosis that she would not live to be 5 years old. Her doctors argued that the girl’s inability to smile is a sign that she lacks cognitive function, but Nottingham City Council, the social services agency that currently cares for the girl, does not agree with their judgement and opposed moving the baby girl to hospice and removing her life support.

BBC News reports that the baby girl’s parents were on opposite sides of the issue, with her father wanting the decision to be made by a judge and the mother asking that her girl be allowed to “pass away peacefully.” Both parents were said to have learning difficulties and problems with their health.

London High Court [Image via Shutterstock]
High Court Judge Justice Keehan made his ruling in favor of the doctors after a two-day hearing in London’s Family Court.

“I am completely satisfied that the only course to be taken in [her] best interests is to withdraw her current life-sustaining treatment and to move her to a palliative regime and allow her to die peacefully in the arms of her loving parents.”

According to Keehan, there is evidence that the baby girl can feel pain, but there is no sign that she feels pleasure. Doctors are unsure as to whether they can relieve her pain. They believe not doing so would cause the baby unbearable suffering with no respite. Testimony by specialists indicated that the baby girl suffered from a host of medical issues, including an inability to see clearly, communicate, or feed herself. The baby also is believed to have no hope of voluntarily moving her muscles. In addition, even if the baby girl lived to see 5 years of age, she would spend those years on a ventilator or oxygen with a tube in place to feed her and a tracheotomy, said doctors.

According to BBC News, one doctor told the judge that the baby girl did not seem to have the ability to smile, nor could she make any “meaningful” noises. Doctors use a baby’s smile as a sign that mental development is occurring, said the specialist.

“She does not appear to have a smile.”

He continued, saying that one of the first signs that indicate when a baby is developing normally mentally is when an infant looks at what it believes to be a face and mentally processes the face, which elicits a smile.

[Image via Shutterstock]
Attorneys for the Nottingham City Council argued that it is too early to make the conclusion that the baby girl would not be able to derive some enjoyment from her life, and that other children with the same bleak outlook had overcome the odds. Barrister Lawrence Messling argued that the baby girl should have surgery and then be placed in foster care, according to Nottingham Post.

The ramifications of the baby girl’s inability to smile swayed the judge, who ruled that the baby had permanent, severe brain damage and should be removed from life support and allowed to die peacefully. Speaking for the trust, its attorneys promised that the baby girl would spend her last days in the “best possible setting” and as comfortable as they could make her. In addition, the judge ruled that no details of the baby girl, her parents, her caregivers, or where she is located can be released.

[Image via Shutterstock]

Share this article: This Baby Girl Cannot Smile, So Judge Rules Her Taken Off Life Support
More from Inquisitr