A British court ruled on Friday that Alte Fixsler, 2, who suffered a brain injury during birth and cannot breathe or eat on her own, cannot be taken to Israel and can only be provided with palliative care. The decision was made despite the fact that it violates the frum couple’s religious beliefs and despite the fact that Alte and her parents are Israeli citizens and want to transfer her to a hospital in Jerusalem at their own expense.
Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust funds Alta’s treatment and the foundation appealed to the High Court to withdraw treatment since doctors have said that Alte has “no prospect of recovery,” requesting to only provide her with palliative care.
The Fixslers, who are Belzer chassidim, have been fighting to take Alta to Israel for further treatment. “They would like her to be treated in Israel by doctors who share their religious beliefs and ethical framework, and struggle to understand why the trust will not agree to this,” their lawyer stated.
“Hospitals in Israel are willing to accept Alta, the risks of transfer are very low, and the costs of transporting Alte safely will be met. The parents implore the trust to reconsider their position.”
According to the parents, Avraham and Chaya Fixsler, many doctors have recommended to release Alte to her home with nursing care but the hospital has refused to do. Alte’s father told Channel 12 News: “For a whole year we were in the hospital and not one doctor ever said that Alte is suffering. I think that as her father I have the right to take her home to Israel and to preserve her life. We’re parents and we love our daughter. A child is not something we choose, we receive her and love her like she is.”
“I think Israel needs to speak out and say: ‘Give us back our citizen (Alte).’ It’s pashut a gezar din of death. Everyone from Am Yisrael should be disturbed by this and anyone who can help should help. I’m truly begging from all of my heart: Help us save our daughter. I’m saying this with tears in my eyes.”
UTJ MK Yisrael Eichler has been trying to assist the family and has contacted the Health Minister and the Attorney General about the case. “In our view, this is murder,” Eichler said. “We requested to bring her to Israel. If there’s a concept of saving life, this is it in the simplest meaning of the term. This child is alive and it’s forbidden to kill her.”
“One day without any prior notice, Alte was transferred from the prenatal ward after being there for 15 months, to the pediatric ward without any coordination between the doctors treating Alte and the pediatric ward doctors,” a family member said. “As a result, after about a week, Alte was reconnected to the respirator, having already been weaned from it and receiving oxygen assistance only. She was transferred to intensive care and has since been connected to a respirator. Shortly afterward the doctors ruled that she should be disconnected from the ventilator and end her life.”
The opinion of doctors from the ward in which she was hospitalized after birth states otherwise, and recommends, as stated, that she be released to her home with oxygen.
The Fixslers refused to disconnect Alte from life support and the doctors referred the decision to the court despite the fact that her parents, the legal guardians, oppose it.
The parents’ claim that they and Alte are Israeli citizens and they want to transfer Alte to an Israeli hospital was rejected. The explanation that they belong to the Jewish religion that forbids taking Alte off of life support fell on deaf ears. The parents also stated that they want to live in Israel again with Alte and when it comes time for her to die, they want her to be buried there without any delay, and this request was also rejected.
The judge rejected all their requests with the justification that Alte is a toddler who is not familiar with and doesn’t understand what religion and Judaism are – and therefore this argument should not be considered at all.
The judge also added that there was no evidence that Alte had behaved in her life as a Jew, and since she was born in England, the fact that she is an Israeli citizen does not constitute protection against British law.
The court will inform the Fixslers on June 8 if they are entitled to appeal to the UK Supreme Court.
Taking Alta to Israel “would cause her discomfort for no medical benefit, in circumstances where all parties accept that the treatment options now available for Alta provide no prospect of recovery,” Justice MacDonald wrote. He added that her parents “cannot be criticised for having reached a different decision informed by the religious laws that govern their way of life, but applying the secular legal principles that I must… I cannot agree with their assessment and am required to act accordingly”
“It is not in the best interests of Alta for life-sustaining medical treatment to be continued, and … it is in her best interests for a palliative care regime to be implemented.”
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)