Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Teenager wins right to die

LONDON (AFP) — A terminally-ill teenager has won the right to die at home after a hospital tried to force her to have a heart transplant, her family said Tuesday, in a case testing medical ethics.

Hannah Jones, 13, says she wants to spend her remaining time at home rather than in hospital, and persuaded health authorities to drop legal action seeking to oblige her to undergo further surgery.

The schoolgirl has a hole in the heart, caused by treatment for a rare form of leukemia diagnosed when she was five. Doctors told her she had only six months to live unless she had a heart transplant.

Child protection officers tried use a court order to take her away from her family at the weekend, and force her to undergo surgery.

"They explained everything to me but I didn't want to go through any more operations. I'd had enough of hospitals and wanted to come home," said the former leukaemia sufferer.

"I just decided that there were too many risks and even if I took it, there might be a bad outcome afterwards," the teenager who lives near Hereford told Sky News.

In a letter to her family, Herefordshire Primary Care Trust said it had concluded it was "not appropriate" to seek a court order requiring Hannah to be admitted to hospital.

"No one can be forced to have a heart transplant," it said in a statement.

"When considering whether a child is able to make a decision, we would consider the age and the maturity of the child as well as the views of the family and others as appropriate," it added.

Her mother Kirsty said she hoped the press coverage would help get a travel insurance company to cover a family trip to Disney World in Florida next month, with her siblings Oliver, 11, Lucy, 10, and Phoebe, four.

"It's really Hannah's most wanted wish that she should go," she said. "Just to get away and have a nice holiday and forget about everything at home."

AFP: Teenager wins right to die

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