Man with catastrophic injuries seeks court orders that would allow him to die

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The man suffered a broken neck in a fall earlier this year.

A MAN WHO suffered catastrophic injuries following a fall is seeking High Court orders that would allow him to die 

The man suffered a broken neck in the fall earlier this year and is permanently paralysed from the neck down. 

The man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, requires the use of a mechanical ventilator to breathe at the hospital where he is currently receiving treatment. 

There is no hope that the man, who is a father and a grandfather, will make a recovery, the court heard. 

As a result, the man has communicated with his doctors and family that he wants the ventilator he is on turned off as he “does not want to go on”. 

The court heard that his family say that “every day is another day of torture to him”. The turning off of the machine would result in the man dying within minutes. 

However, his wishes have not been carried out. 

The man and his family were told by his doctors that they wanted to give him more time before making a decision that would end his life, and that he might change his mind. 

The family say they were informed by those treating him that a test to assess the man’s capacity may take three more weeks to complete. 

His family say that such a delay would be excruciating for the man. The family say they have not been told that he suffered any damage to his brain following the fall.  

In his action the man seeks an injunction restraining the HSE from continuing to provide him with various life prolonging treatments and supports. 

These include mechanical ventilation and providing him with oxygen so he can breathe.

He also seeks a declaration from the court that the continued administration of life prolonging treatment against his wishes, amounts to a breach of his rights to autonomy, dignity and bodily integrity under Article 40.3 of the Irish Constitution. 

Represented by Jonathan Kilfeather SC with Ellen Gleeson Bl, the man had lived an active life prior to his accident. He is extremely distressed with the situation. 

The family had been told that if the man continues to receive treatment he could be moved to another hospital and could live for another 18 months, where he would require 24 hour a day care. 

The man, who has difficulty speaking but can communicate with others, has in recent days informed both his family and his solicitor that he wants the ventilator turned off. 

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In a sworn statement the man’s solicitor said based on a conversation he had with his client in recent days that he is lucid and has the capacity to make decisions, 

The man’s family are supporting his application for treatment to be stopped and the ventilator to be turned off, and also say he is compos mentis (of sound mind). 

The family say the man is very anxious not to have to wait several further weeks for a capacity test along with a further period thereafter before his wishes are carried out. 

The matter came before Mr Justice Mark Helsin today, who described the circumstances of the case as extremely tragic.

The judge was told by counsel for the HSE Barry O Donnell SC that the HSE was making efforts to have the man assessed by a suitably qualified independent medical practitioner to assess the man’s capacity. 

It was hoped that person could be identified in the coming days, counsel said. The HSE, and staff at the hospital when the man is being treated were acutely aware of the situation and upset the man and his family are in, counsel added 

The matter will return before the court later this week.

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