FM vows to obtain diplomatic status for Pole in coma in UK

Albert Zawada/PAP

Poland's foreign minister has said he is taking action to obtain diplomatic status for a Polish man lying in a coma in a British hospital after a Polish consul was denied access to the patient.

The man, who has not been named, has been in a coma in a Plymouth hospital since November 6 after suffering a cardiac arrest. The heart attack lasted for 45 minutes and left him with what doctors have described as severe and permanent brain damage.

"Regarding the case of a Polish citizen remaining in a hospital in Plymouth in the UK, I would like to announce that I am taking all possible steps to grant him diplomatic status," Zbigniew Rau tweeted on Wednesday.

A British court on Monday granted a request from the hospital to deny a Polish consul access to the Pole.

The call for the man to be given diplomatic status is the latest twist in the ailing man’s story.

His case has been marked by a protracted legal battle between various factions of the man’s family over his future, which has even involved the European Court of Human Rights.

His wife and children had supported a successful application by the hospital to a court for permission to turn off his life support system so that he could die while receiving palliative care.

However, the patient's mother and sister in Poland have argued that the man, as a practising Catholic, would oppose the turning off of life support owing to his faith.

In an appeal to an English court they also claimed that the man’s condition had improved, and produced video evidence, recorded on a mobile phone, apparently showing him blinking when they were in the room.

But the court rejected the evidence and their arguments, stating that it was in the man’s best interests to be given palliative care after his life support had been discontinued.

Following the loss of their appeal, his mother and sister have said they would like the Polish government to become involved in the matter, and also took their case to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

The court, however, rejected their plea, leaving doctors free to let him die. Despite this, and despite his life support being turned off twice before, the man is still alive and his case has been subject to numerous appeals.