Judge outlines race against time in kidney donor search for autistic teenager
A judge has outlined the race against time a woman trying to find a kidney donor for her teenage son might face.
William Verden, 17, who suffers from kidney disease and is on dialysis, is at the centre of a treatment dispute.
Mrs Justice Arbuthnot is preparing to decide what treatment options are in the teenager’s best interests.
She is due to oversee a trial in the Court of Protection, where judges consider issues relating to people who lack the mental capacity to take decisions for themselves, in Liverpool later this month.
William’s mother, Ami McLennan, 45, from Lancaster, says a transplant is a “feasible option”.
Specialists treating William (pictured), who has autism, at Manchester Children’s Hospital say a transplant is not in his best interests.
Lawyers representing the hospital’s governing trust, the Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust, have asked Mrs Justice Arbuthnot to consider the case and make decisions.
The judge spelled out the time pressure in a written ruling on a preliminary issue published on Thursday, explaining: “William is said to have 12 months left on haemodialysis as his veins will not withstand haemodialysis for longer than that period and it is said that it will take one-six months for any potential live donor to be tested, one month if urgent, more likely three-six months, if not.”
Mrs Justice Arbuthnot, who is based in the Family Division of the High Court, had been asked to decide whether William could be named in media reports of the case.
Judges normally bar journalists from naming patients at the centre of Court of Protection proceedings, to protect their human right to respect for private and family life.
But Mrs Justice Arbuthnot said William could be named.
William’s mother wanted to name him, in the hope that publicity would help find a donor.
Journalists from the BBC and the PA news agency supported her.
Mrs Justice Arbuthnot said it was “proportionate” to allow William to be named.
She said William suffered from “steroid resistant nephrotic syndrome”, and outlined the opposing arguments being put forward about treatment options.
“The Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust has sought declarations in relation to William’s capacity and best interests regarding his treatment options,” she said.
“The trust’s position … is that they oppose transplant for a series of the reasons they have set out, essentially that William will require sedation and ventilation for possibly up to six weeks to ensure that he complies with the interventions post-operatively and that the prospect of recurrence of the steroid resistant nephrotic syndrome is high, about 80%.
“His mother opposes the trust’s application.
“She relies on expert evidence which points more towards a 50% chance of recurrence and the same expert says that a transplant is a feasible option and gives to William a reasonable potential for a good long-term outcome.”
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