Teen refuses a new heart

A terminally ill British teenager has won the right to die at home, after persuading a hospital to withdraw a High Court action that would have forced her to have a risky heart transplant against her will.

Hannah Jones (13) says she would prefer to spend her remaining days in the care of her family rather than take the chance of dying in hospital, British media reported this week.

She was so fed-up with being kept in hospital wards for much of the previous eight years since being struck down by leukaemia and crippling cardio myopathy that she declared enough was enough, Britain's The Daily Mirror reported on its website.

Hannah said this week: "They explained everything to me but I just didn't want to go through any more operations.

"I'd had enough of hospitals and wanted to come home," the Mirror reported.

The schoolgirl was on the brink of being forcibly removed from her parents and taken to hospital under a court order when she begged a child-protection officer to spare her the heart operation.

She convinced the official the transplant was not in her best interest and she wanted to spend the rest of her short life at home in the company of her mother, father, brother Oliver (11) and sisters Lucy (10) and Phoebe (4).

Hannah's mother, Kirsty, an intensive-care nurse, and her father, Andrew, an auditor, said they respected their daughter's wishes and were angry that the hospital brought the action, The Times Online reported.

Mr Jones told how he received a shock phone-call one Friday night warning him Hannah would be removed from the family by court order unless they agreed to her having the transplant, the Mirror reported.

He said: "They had an ambulance lined up and nurses ready to look after Hannah because they knew she would be distressed. They were ready to take her that night. We were all in shock.

"But we got them to agree to speak to Hannah before taking any action. Hannah must have done a good job of convincing them because, after consulting lawyers, they said on Monday no further action would be taken."

The family believed a locum doctor at their local hospital had reported the case to the child-protection unit after Hannah had been taken home by her parents, The Times said.

Hannah has been in and out of hospital after having leukaemia diagnosed at the age of 5.

The Times said chemotherapy had left her with a hole in her heart and, as her body had grown, her heart had been unable to keep pace.

Although the heart transplant should prolong her life, it would only provide temporary respite.

Doctors had warned Hannah a heart transplant was risky and that, even if it succeeded, the drugs used to prevent her body rejecting the new heart could prompt a recurrence of the leukaemia.

Hannah, from Marden, near Hereford in England, made her decision not to have the transplant after talking to doctors at Birmingham Children's Hospital, where she had a pacemaker fitted earlier this year, and Great Ormond Street Hospital, which would have performed the operation.

Mr Jones said he was not sure exactly what his daughter had told the child-protection officer at their private meeting, "but it must have been powerful enough to convince some very high-up people that she was right".

"Hannah has been through enough already. To have the added stress of a possible court hearing or being forcibly taken into hospital is disgraceful."

 

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