Two-year-old girl on life-support ‘alive and has feelings’

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Two-year-old girl on life-support ‘alive and has feelings’

Family friend tells Radio 4 that Alta Fixsler has a 'potential for better future' if granted permission to leave Manchester hospital for treatment in the US or Israel

Lee Harpin is the Jewish News's political editor

Alta Fixsler  (Irwin Mitchell/PA Media)
Alta Fixsler (Irwin Mitchell/PA Media)

A severely disabled two-year Jewish girl from Manchester who medics believe has no chance of recovery is “a human being that is alive and has feelings”, a close friend of her parents has insisted.

Appearing on Radio 4’s Today programme Yossi Gestetner, a family friend in America, claimed Alta Fixsler had a “potential for a better future” if she were allowed to travel to the US or Israel for treatment there.

The child, born into a Charedi family, has been on life support at Manchester’s Royal Children’s Hospital since birth, an in May, the High Court ruled that Alta, who cannot breathe or eat on her own, could be placed into palliative care or have her life-sustaining treatment withdrawn.

Alta’s parents – her father Abraham has dual Israeli and American nationality – are refusing to accept the decision taken by the court’s family division and are appealing it at the Supreme Court.

“If it is opinion that Alta feels pain when she is moved, then we are not dealing with something that doesn’t feel pain – we are dealing with a human being that is alive, who has feelings, who therefore has the potential for a better future if given the right care,” Gestetner insisted, as he explained the parents’ decision to challenge the court ruling.

“There is no medical assessment. There are different medical opinions in the US and in Israel as opposed to what the court has presented. There are opinions this way and opinions that way.”

A court ruling last month stopped the Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust from turning off her life support machine pending an appeal to the Supreme Court.

The original ruling said that such a move would only risk more pain to Alta.

American senators have now stepped in – with Chuck Schumer, the Senate majority leader,  writing to the British ambassador to Washington, Karen Pierce, for the suspension of “health decisions against the wishes of the family”.

He has also secured her a visa if she is allowed to travel.

Gestetner told Radio 4:”No disrespect to the NHS or to a local hospital in Manchester – but nobody would think the local hospital would have the same abilities or capabilities as world renowned hospital in the US or in Israel.”

Asked for his opinion on the best way forward for the sad case now, the family friend said: “The best way forward is for the NHS to take the position that the court said we do not have obligation to continue care, but as citizens of other countries they should go ahead with care elsewhere as long as it is done in a professional manner.

“Alta is two and a half years old. Any parent would want to give their child a chance. A decision should not preclude the freedom and ability to be transported to a team of medical experts in Israel or America to have a second chance of life.”

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