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Polish Catholic patient at center of UK court battle dies

A Polish Catholic patient at the center of a U.K. court battle died on Tuesday despite last-minute efforts by bishops and government officials to bring him to Poland for treatment. 

The Polish Press Agency reported that family members had confirmed that the middle-aged man, identified only as RS, died on Jan. 26, after a hospital withdrew assisted nutrition and hydration for a final time following a series of legal challenges.

RS, a Polish citizen with strong pro-life views who lived for years in the U.K., was hospitalized on Nov. 6, 2020, following a cardiac arrest during which his brain was deprived of oxygen for at least 45 minutes.

The University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust applied at the end of November to the Court of Protection in London for permission to cease life-support treatment, arguing that RS, who fell into a coma, had little prospect of progressing beyond a minimally conscious state.

A judge ruled on Dec. 15 that life-support treatment “could be lawfully discontinued,” noting that the man’s wife and children supported the step. 

The move was opposed by other family members, including his mother, who lives in Poland. 

The family members raised their objects unsuccessfully at a Court of Appeal hearing on Dec. 23 and applied twice without success to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France. 

Christian Concern, a U.K. nonprofit organization that offered support to the family members through its Christian Legal Centre, said in a Jan. 26 statement that RS had been deprived of fluids and nutrition since Jan. 13.

“Following a courageous legal and diplomatic battle fought by members of his family and the Polish government to have RS repatriated to Poland, RS lost his life just as Poland was seeking to enforce a judgment of its courts to have him airlifted to a Polish hospital for further treatment and care,” it said.

Read more at Catholic News Agency

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