Polish man in ‘vegetative’ state dies in Plymouth hospital
A Polish man in a vegetative state after a heart attack, who Polish officials wanted to be kept alive despite his wife's opposition, has died in a hospital in Plymouth in the UK.
On Monday morning the hospital in Plymouth, southwestern England, informed the family that the man’s condition had seriously deteriorated.
The hospital said: “RS [the patient] has been reviewed by the palliative care team today.
“His condition has deteriorated since his review yesterday. He is having increasing periods of pauses in his respirations.”
The news of his death was confirmed to the Polish Press Agency on Tuesday.
The middle-aged man identified only as RS fell into a coma on November 6 after a heart attack lasted for 45 minutes and left him with what doctors described as severe and permanent brain damage.
A Polish deputy justice minister said on Saturday he had requested RS be returned to Poland after a Warsaw court gave the procedure a green light on Friday.
On Saturday, Deputy Justice Minister Marcin Warchoł said he had contacted Britain's Lord Chancellor (justice minister) with a request to have the man transported to the Budzik Clinic in Olsztyn, north-eastern Poland.
He said he had also requested from the British health secretary that the man's life support apparatus be reconnected.
The man's wife and children 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 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 (ECHR) in Strasbourg.
But in another twist in the long-running saga, the ECHR rejected their plea, leaving doctors free to let the man die. Despite this, and despite his life support being turned off twice before, R.S. remained alive and his case became subject to numerous appeals.
On Friday, Warchoł announced that a diplomatic passport in the patient's name had been sent to the Polish consulate in London and if UK authorities recognised it, the man's case would come under Polish jurisdiction, paving the way for him to be repatriated.
In a Friday statement, University Hospitals Plymouth said that in all situations it looks after the best interests of patients and tries to work with families to determine their likely will, also following court decisions in cases of dispute.
The hospital also pointed out that a British court had ruled in December that further treatment was not in R.S.'s best interests and that palliative care should be given.
That decision was twice reviewed and upheld by the appeals court.
A UK court also ruled that transporting the man to Poland would not be in his best interests.