British judge says life support treatment can end for a brain-damaged pastor who's in a coma

LONDON (AP) — A brain-damaged English pastor in a coma can be denied treatment needed to keep him alive, a London judge ruled, saying it was “burdensome and futile” to continue kidney dialysis.

The Pentecostal minister's wife had appealed a decision by a Manchester area health authority to end his care, arguing with other family members that his faith required him to be kept alive as long as possible and his death could only be determined by God.

The pastor, who is in his early 50s and was not named, has “very significant” brain damage after suffering a stroke while undergoing dialysis 18 months ago.

Justice Anthony Hayden said this week in the Court of Protection that further treatment would achieve nothing despite a belief by family members that the man had already experienced miracles.

Northern Care Alliance NHS Foundation Trust, which is based in Salford and responsible for the man’s care, argued to end the treatment. Specialists said there was no chance for rehabilitation and that continued treatment was not in his interests.

“He was a man who lived his life by the Pentecostal sword and would have wanted to die by the Pentecostal sword in accordance with his Pentecostal beliefs,” Hayden said. "(He) would have chosen to continue his life-sustaining treatment even in the face of coma.”

While the judge said an individual's wishes “weighed heavily,” the trust's application to end the treatment was well founded.

“There is, in truth, no alternative,” he said. “Everything possible has been done.”

Hayden said the treatment should be continued long enough so family members can bid him farewell.