Widow in the end stages of dementia should not be made to have kidney dialysis – judge

A widow who is in the end stages of dementia and has chronic renal failure should not be forced to undergo kidney dialysis sessions, a judge in a specialist court has decided.

Mr Justice Hayden has ruled that the woman, a former teacher who is in her 70s and living at a care home in the London area, should have dialysis only when she wants to.

He has approved a plan drawn up by a doctor and members of her family.

One of the woman’s daughters had asked him to consider the case.

The judge heard that a doctor had become concerned about the woman being coerced into going to dialysis sessions.

Mr Justice Hayden analysed the woman’s case at a hearing in the Court of Protection, where issues relating to people who lack the mental capacity to make decisions are considered, in London on Monday and heard evidence from a number of her grown-up children.

He said she could not be identified in media reports of the case.

The judge was told the woman had suffered from kidney disease for three years and dementia for five years.

Evidence showed she found dialysis exhausting and did not understand what the treatment was for.

One of her sons said she sometimes thought that she was being tortured.

Mr Justice Hayden said the pensioner was in the final stages of her life.

“There can be no positive outcome,” said Mr Justice Hayden.

“There will be no transplant for a patient in the end stages of dementia. There would be no point.”

He praised the woman’s children and said: “I don’t think any family could have done more for their mother.”

The judge said a doctor and members of her family had agreed that she should not be forced or deceived into undergoing dialysis.

He said the “way forward” they had agreed was “sensitive and kindly”.

One of the woman’s sons told Mr Justice Hayden how she found pleasure in “small things”.

“Sometimes when music is playing, she will dance,” he told the judge.

“After that there is not a lot left in her life. She sleeps and wakes up.”

The judge also heard the woman was a devout Catholic and still prayed.

Mr Justice Hayden said: “Along with her enjoyment in music, her faith remains where all else appears to have gone.”

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