Bri­tish girl’s body frozen af­ter death in UK le­gal fight

Kuwait Times - - HEALTH -

LONDON: A Bri­tish girl who died af­ter a ter­mi­nal ill­ness won the right to have her body frozen in an un­prece­dented rul­ing, the High Court said yes­ter­day. The 14-year-old girl from London had writ­ten to a judge ex­plain­ing she wanted a chance to “live longer” af­ter suf­fer­ing from a rare form of can­cer. She had re­searched and de­cided to un­dergo cry­on­ics, the process through which peo­ple’s bod­ies are frozen in the hope they will be brought back to life with the help of fu­ture med­i­cal ad­vance­ments. “I am only 14-year­sold and I don’t want to die but I know I am go­ing to die,” she wrote to the judge.

“I think be­ing cryo-pre­served gives me a chance to be cured and wo­ken up-even in hun­dreds of years’ time.” The girl launched le­gal ac­tion to re­quest that her mother, who sup­ported the child’s wishes, be the only per­son al­lowed to make de­ci­sions about the dis­posal of her body. Her par­ents are di­vorced and the teenager’s fa­ther ini­tially ob­jected to his daugh­ter’s plan. Judge Peter Jack­son ruled in the girl’s fa­vor in Oc­to­ber fol­low­ing a pri­vate hear­ing at the High Court of Eng­land and Wales in London. The girl was too ill to at­tend the hear­ing and has since died, with her re­mains be­ing taken to the United States and cryo­geni­cally frozen.

US-based Cry­on­ics In­sti­tute is­sued a state­ment say­ing that the teenager had ar­rived at their fa­cil­ity and “packed in dry ice, at 5:00 pm on the 25th of Oc­to­ber, ap­prox­i­mately 8 days af­ter death,” be­com­ing its 144th pa­tient. Its min­i­mum fee for cry­op­reser­va­tion is $28,000 (26,400 euros), ac­cord­ing to its web­site, and The Times re­ported the cost to the girl’s fam­ily was $46,000. The case was not re­ported on be­fore yes­ter­day in keep­ing with the wishes of the teenager, who also asked that no one in­volved be iden­ti­fied. Jack­son said his de­ci­sion was based on the dis­pute be­tween the girl’s par­ents and the best out­come for the child’s welfare, not on the science it­self, in what he de­scribed as an un­prece­dented rul­ing.

‘This is my wish’

“It is no sur­prise that this ap­pli­ca­tion is the only one of its kind to have come be­fore the courts in this coun­try-and prob­a­bly any­where else,” he said. “It is an ex­am­ple of the new ques­tions that science poses to the law­per­haps most of all to fam­ily law,” Jack­son added. The judge de­scribed the case as a “tragic com­bi­na­tion” of child­hood ill­ness and fam­ily con­flict, while prais­ing the girl for the “valiant way” she ap­proached the sit­u­a­tion. In her let­ter to the judge, the 14-year-old wrote: “I don’t want to be buried un­der­ground. I want to live and live longer and I think that in the fu­ture they may find a cure for my can­cer and wake me up.

“I want to have this chance. This is my wish.” The girl’s solic­i­tor, Zoe Fleet­wood, said her client had called Jack­son her “hero” af­ter be­ing told of the court’s de­ci­sion shortly be­fore her death on Oc­to­ber 17. “By Oc­to­ber 6, the girl knew that her wishes were go­ing to be fol­lowed. That gave her great com­fort,” she told BBC Ra­dio 4. For the last eight years of her life the teenager had not had face-to­face con­tact with her fa­ther, who raised his con­cerns about the costs and con­se­quences of his daugh­ter be­ing frozen. “Even if the treat­ment is suc­cess­ful and she is brought back to life in, let’s say, 200 years, she may not find any rel­a­tive and she might not re­mem­ber things,” he was said to have told Jack­son. The fa­ther’s po­si­tion how­ever shifted dur­ing the case, say­ing that he re­spected his daugh­ter’s de­ci­sion.

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