Doctors can switch off five-year-old Pippa Knight's life support

Doctors can switch off brain-damaged five-year-old Pippa Knight’s life support, High Court judge rules

  • Pippa’s mother Paula Parfitt had wanted her daughter to be kept alive by doctors
  • Mr Justice Poole heard from hospital bosses the girl should be allowed to die
  • He sided with them to overrule Ms Parfitt’s wishes to say treatment could stop

A judge has said life-support for a brain-damaged little girl can be stopped by doctors – overruling her devastated mother who has been battling to keep her alive.

Medics can stop providing the treatment to brain-damaged Pippa Knight, five, of Strood, Kent, Mr Justice Poole said in the Family Division of the High Court in London today.

Doctors treating her at the Evelina Children’s Hospital in London said during a trial life-support treatment should end.

Little Pippa is in a vegetative state and on life support after Flu A left her brain damaged in January last year.

Hospital bosses had asked Mr Justice Poole to rule that the girl, who is in a vegetative state, should be allowed to die.

Her mother Paula Parfitt, 40, (pictured with her) of Strood, Kent, disagrees wants her life support to continue so her daughter can take advantage of future advances in medical science

But Pippa’s mother, Paula Parfitt, 41, desperately wanted her life support to continue so the five-year-old can take advantage of future advances in medical science.

Mr Justice Poole said: ‘Ms Parfitt has fought as hard for Pippa as any parent could,’ he said in his ruling.

‘Responsibility for the decisions in this case lies with the court, not with her. My conclusion is that continued mechanical ventilation is contrary to Pippa’s best interests.’

He added that he ‘cannot give weight to Ms Parfitt’s view that home care would improve Pippa’s condition, because it is at odds with the unanimous view of the clinicians and medical experts’.

Mr Justice Poole had been considering evidence at a public hearing in the Family Division of the High Court in London back in December.

Ms Parfitt wanted doctors to allow Pippa to be treated at home. She said Pippa should be given a tracheostomy and attached to a portable ventilator.


Little Pippa Knight, of Medway, Kent, has been on life support at the Evelina Hospital in London since Flu A left her brain damaged in January last year

Paula Parfitt, the mother of five-year-old Pippa Knight, outside the Royal Courts of Justice

But doctors treating her said such moves would not be in Pippa’s best interests.

Ms Parfitt told the judge that she believed in ‘God’s law’, and ‘God’s law’ was to preserve life.

‘I just will not give up on her,’ Ms Parfitt had told the judge.

Lawyers for Guys’ at St Thomas’ Hospital NHS Foundation Trust have told the High Court there is no hope Pippa’s condition would improve and doctors should be allowed to take her off life support

‘If there is an opportunity for her to go home then it is what God would want.’

Ms Parfitt said nobody knew what might happen and said there might be changes in medical science.

‘She needs to be given the opportunity because nobody knows,’ said Ms Parfitt.

‘I don’t think you know if anything will work unless you try it.’

Ms Parfitt added: ‘I want my daughter to go home, have a tracheostomy and portable ventilation, and whatever will be, will be.’

Pippa’s father Karl Knight died in 2017, the judge was told. Ms Parfitt is desperate not to lose another loved one.

A barrister representing the NHS trust which runs the hospital told the judge that the case was tragic.

But Michael Mylonas QC said there was no hope that Pippa would improve.

‘The decision to bring this application is made only after the most anxious consideration and review of all the available evidence,’ said Mr Mylonas, who represents Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust.

‘Given Pippa’s position, her inability to sense pleasure, the impossibility of her deriving any benefit from prolonged life and the absence of any hope that the future might bring some improvement in her condition, the applicant trust regretfully submits that the appropriate order is the declaration in the terms sought.’ 

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