The judges ruled Midrar’s parents Shokhan Namiq and Karwan Ali did not have an arguable case and medics could legally ‘cease to mechanically ventilate’ the child. Photograph: Pete Byrne/PA

Parents of brain-damaged baby lose life support legal battle

Father describes decision as ‘terrible’ after appeals court rules son is brain stem dead


The parents of a four-month-old baby with brain damage have lost a legal battle to continue his life support treatment.

Karwan Ali, 35, and Shokhan Namiq, 28, appealed after a high court judge ruled that Midrar Ali was brain stem dead and doctors at St Mary’s hospital in Manchester could withdraw treatment.

On Friday, the court of appeal dismissed the challenge and upheld the earlier ruling. Describing the judgment as “terrible”, the boy’s father said: “They can’t be 100% sure he is dead. He’s still growing. His eyes move. I’ve seen them move.”

Sir Andrew McFarlane, who is president of the family division, Lord Justice Patten and Lady Justice King ruled that Midrar’s parents did not have an arguable case and that medics could legally “cease to mechanically ventilate” the child.

At the high court in Manchester in January, Justice Lieven came to the same conclusion after examining the evidence.

But the family persisted in their battle for treatment to continue, saying that doctors could not be sure Midrar’s condition would not improve, and asked appeal judges to overturn the decision.

The news was announced by McFarlane, who is the most senior family court judge in England and Wales, at a further hearing on Friday.

He said that “awfully” Midrar no longer had a brain recognisable as such and that no other conclusion had been open to Lieven.

“There is no basis for contemplating that any further tests would result in a different outcome,” he said. “The factual and medical evidence before was more than sufficient to justify the findings.”

Midrar suffered brain damage after being starved of oxygen during complications caused when the umbilical cord came out before his birth. Manchester University NHS Foundation maintained that continuing treatment was undignified, and that Midrar had always been on a ventilator and never breathed independently.

It had previously said his organs were deteriorating and that he should be allowed a “kind and dignified death”.

Lawyers representing the trust said three tests had confirmed brain stem death and Midrar had died on 1 October 2019, when he was 14 days old.