“RS,” the Polish Catholic patient in the center of a United Kingdom court battle to save his life, has died, despite efforts to bring him back to Poland to receive treatment.
After suffering cardiact arrest, RS was admitted to the hospital, where he was in a coma. The University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust petitioned to be able to remove life-sustaining treatment — meaning nutrition and hydration — in November. The family of RS repeatedly petitioned to allow him to live, and to be transferred to Poland if the NHS chose not to continue treatment, with Poland’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Zbigniew Rau, writing to ask that treatment be reinstated.
In January, consultant neurologist and Catholic priest, Rev. Dr. Patrick Pullicino told the court that RS has a 50% chance of making a full recovery, and said that his condition has improved. Yet the court ruled that Pullicino was not a “reliable witness,” and discounted his testimony. They also refused requests from the Polish government to repatriate RS, saying he might die in transit. A Polish court had already ruled in RS’s favor, approving the transfer in what was deemed an effort to ensure his human and civil rights were protected. “A person should always be given a chance,” Deputy Health Minister Waldemar Kraska said. “It is not we who decide when a man dies.”
Deputy Justice Minister Marcin Warchoł also contacted the UK’s justice and health ministries, saying that the Polish government won’t abandon its citizens, even if they are in foreign countries. “I believe that in our tradition there is the protection of life from conception to natural death,” he said.
Krystyna Pawłowicz, a Polish judge, accused the hospital keeping RS of merely wanting to harvest his organs, and after his death, tweeted, “There should be consequences for the drastic, ostentatious DISREGARD of Poland by Great Britain in such an important matter.”
Though doctors admitted that RS could live for another five years, they also argued his life would not be “meaningful,” and therefore, it was in his best interest to slowly dehydrate and starve him to death.
A statement from Christian Concern, a United Kingdom-based non-profit organization, said RS had been without nutrition or hydration since January 13th. “I am devastated that the British authorities have decided to dehydrate my son to death,” RS’s mother said in the statement. “What the British authorities have done to my son is euthanasia by the back door. Depriving him of nutrition and hydration is functionally the same as giving him an injection to end his life, except that the entire process is longer, degrading and inhumane treatment.”
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