Paris court orders life support to resume for 'brain dead' patient

In a dramatic turnaraound, a Paris appeals court late Monday ordered doctors who began earlier in the day to remove vital medical assistance to a man who has remained in a vegetative state for ten years to resume his life support, ruling in favour of his parents and against a decision taken by both the hospital where he has been cared for and the wishes of his wife and several siblings.

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A French court has ordered doctors to resume life support for a quadriplegic man whose case has become central to the right-to-die debate in France, reports BBC News.

Doctors had begun switching off life support for Vincent Lambert, 42, on Monday, before the court order.

Mr Lambert has been in a vegetative state since a 2008 motorcycle accident.

His care has divided the country and his family. His wife has called for his feeding tubes to be withdrawn; his parents insist he be kept alive.

Mr Lambert's mother Viviane, 73, hailed the latest ruling as "a very big victory" in her struggle to maintain her son's life support.

"They are going to restore nutrition and give him drink. For once I am proud of the courts," she said.

Doctors had earlier Monday halted the nutrition and hydration Lambert receives, in line with the wishes of his wife and other relatives.

An earlier judicial ruling had said Mr Lambert should be removed from life support and that process had begun before Monday evening's dramatic reversal by the Paris Court of Appeal.

The case has been the subject of judicial rulings, going as far as the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).

Europe's top court upheld the decision of a French court to allow Mr Lambert to be taken off life support. However, doctors then did not carry out the plan - amid security concerns raised by Mr Lambert's father, who feared there was a plan to kidnap him.

The high-profile case has proved extremely divisive in France, where euthanasia is illegal but doctors are allowed to put terminally ill patients into deep sedation.

Mr Lambert is a former psychiatric nurse who has been in a quadriplegic state of paralysis, with minimal consciousness, since his accident.

He has been kept alive with food and water delivered through a gastric tube. He can breathe without artificial aid and occasionally opens his eyes.

After several years of trying to improve his condition, Mr Lambert's medical team recommended in 2013 that care should stop, in consultation with his wife Rachel.

Because the rest of his family were not consulted, the decision was challenged and a lengthy legal battle over his care began.

His wife, six of his siblings and his nephew favour artificial life-support being ended - but his devoutly Roman Catholic parents, Pierre and Viviane, and two other siblings have remained adamant it should continue.

At the height of the row, in 2015, Mr Lambert's parents released a video via a conservative Catholic website on YouTube which they said showed him reacting to family members.

Doctors involved in his care complained that the video was misleading about his condition and manipulative to the wider public.

The UN's Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities had called on France to intervene and delay the move to withdraw the life support while they investigated his case further. France's ministry of health said it was not bound by the committee.

Health minister Agnès Buzyn said at that point, before Monday's ruling, that "all legal appeals have been exhausted".

Read more of this report from BBC News.


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