A toddler at the centre of a life-support treatment court battle will never get better, specialists have told a judge.
Doctors say two-year-old Alta Fixsler suffered a severe brain injury at birth and cannot breathe, eat or drink without sophisticated medical treatment.
Alta’s Jewish parents want the judge to allow them to move her to a hospital in Israel where she could be treated by ‘doctors who share their religious beliefs and ethical framework’.
But specialists from Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust, who have responsibility for her care, say evidence shows that Alta is unable to experience pleasure but experiences pain and distress on a daily basis.
They think treatment should end.
Mr Justice MacDonald, who is based in London, is considering the dispute at a private virtual hearing in the Family Division of the High Court.
Bosses at the hospital trust have asked the judge to decide what moves are in Alta’s best interests.
He has told lawyers that he will have to take the current hostilities in Israel and Gaza into account when reaching a decision about what was in Alta’s best interests.
“Alta is unable to breathe, eat or drink without sophisticated medical treatment: she is mechanically ventilated via tracheostomy and is fed by naso-gastric tube,” barrister Helen Mulholland, who is representing the hospital trust, has told Mr Justice MacDonald.
“There is no prospect of her ever getting better.”
She said evidence showed that Alta is unable to experience pleasure, but experienced pain and distress on a daily basis.
Specialists treating Alta think it will be in best interests if ‘life-sustaining treatment’ was withdrawn and she was moved to a palliative care regime, the judge has been told.
The hearing began earlier this week and is due to end on Friday.
A barrister representing Alta’s parents has told Mr Justice MacDonald they want to move to Israel with their daughter.
“They would like her to be treated in Israel by doctors who share their religious beliefs and ethical framework, and struggle to understand why the trust will not agree to this,” said Victoria Butler-Cole QC.
“Hospitals in Israel are willing to accept Alta, the risks of transfer are very low, and the costs of transporting Alta safely will be met.
“The parents implore the trust to reconsider their position.”
The judge has been told that a Jerusalem hospital has confirmed it would accept Alta initially.
A lawyer representing Alta’s parents said outside court that the couple thought it best if treatment decisions were made in Israel.
“Alta’s family are devastated at the prospect of her life-sustaining treatment being withdrawn,” said Mathieu Culverhouse, based at law firm Irwin Mitchell.
“Furthermore, as part of their Jewish faith, Alta’s parents can’t in the current circumstances agree to steps being taken that would lead to the death of their daughter.
“All they want is for her to be given the best possible chance of life.”