Life support resumed for paralyzed French patient after court intervention | News | DW | 20.05.2019
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Life support resumed for paralyzed French patient after court intervention

Hydration and feeding for paralyzed and unconscious hospital patient Vincent Lambert has been resumed in Reims following a court order. For over a decade, his family have been at odds over what should be done for him.

Doctors in eastern France resumed life support for paralyzed patient Vincent Lambertwho has been quadriplegic and in a vegetative state since being involved in a road traffic accident in 2008.

Controversy surrounding the 42-year-old Frenchman took an unexpected turn on Monday night, after the Paris Court of Appeal "ordered the French State ... to take all measures to enforce the interim measures requested on May 2 2019 by the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) for the continuation of Vincent Lambert's feeding and hydration."

The ruling was only published after doctors had halted Lambert's hydration and nutrition earlier on Monday.

CPRD's lengthy investigation

The CRPD is a UN committee of independent experts which monitors implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, signed in 2008. 

Lambert suffered severe brain damage in the 2008 crash, but remains capable of breathing on his own, as well as opening and occasionally moving his eyes.

His wife, who is also his legal guardian, decided in 2014 to use a legal option that would have doctors stop feeding Lambert. Although euthanasia is illegal in France, the law foresees a possibility of ending life support for patients with no chance of recovery.  

Doctors and some of Lambert's siblings supported the idea, but other family members opposed it. Lambert's father Pierre and mother Vivian, both devout Catholics, spearheaded a legal battle to keep their son alive.

Lambert's parents welcome 'victory'

On Monday, a last-ditch effort to stop the procedure had been rejected by the European Court of Human Rights.  

On Tuesday, after the hospital renewed life support for their son, his mother described it as a "very great victory."

"We have the pleasure to inform you that ... the hydration and feeding of Vincent Lambert has been resumed," a lawyer for Lambert's parents said.

Macron and Pope Francis

President Emmanuel Macron had rejected calls to intervene in the case, saying that "the decision to stop treatment was taken after a constant dialogue between his doctors and [Lambert's] wife, who is his legal representative."

"All medical experts have concluded that his condition is irreversible," the president added in a statement published on Facebook.

Pope Francis had commented on the debate, saying he was praying for people suffering from severe illness.

"Let us always safeguard life, God's gift, from its beginning until its natural end," he wrote on Twitter. "Let us not give in to a throwaway culture."

dj/jm (AFP, Reuters, dpa)

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