The mother of a brain-damaged five-year-old girl, who was told that her daughter should die now in a controlled fashion, has wept tears of joy as a pro-life group has given its financial backing in a last gasp £100,000 court battle to save her daughter.
Pippa Knight has been in hospital for two years after taking ill and is currently in a vegetative state. Her devoted mum Paula Parfitt, 41, from Strood, Kent, has carried out a bedside vigil at a London hospital where Pippa has been treated.
However, medics went to court in December seeking permission to cease treating her and won the backing of Mr Justice Poole after a trial in the Family Division of the High Court in London. In his judgment earlier this month he described the case as “heart-rending” after personally visiting the youngster at the Evelina Children’s Hospital in London during the case.
Legal aid bosses backed the initial case but they refused to fund an appeal. In desperation she made a public plea for financial support to fund the hearing which could cost £100,000.
Her call has now been answered by the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC). Deeply religious Paula said: “When my solicitor told me I was so relieved and overwhelmed and I must admit I shed some tears. SPUC has given Pippa a second chance – and she deserves a second chance.
“I feel so privileged. And I’m grateful not just for the financial support but for their prayers for Pippa, their faith and humanity and for trying to save her with prayers and love. I know that, as a Christian, I am a great believer in God’s law, and that is to preserve life and respect and care for every human life.”
John Deighan, SPUC’s deputy chief executive who takes over as CEO from John Smeaton who retires later this year, said: “All lives are sacred and we oppose abortion, assisted suicide and euthanasia in all its forms. We have been deeply moved by Pippa’s plight and Paula’s predicament as this courageous mum does everything humanly possible to protect her daughter and give her the best possible care. We could not stand by and do nothing.
“Our supporters have a wonderful track record of giving generously to defend the right of life in such court cases and I am sure they will respond to our call to help finance this crucial legal battle which now looms.
“I would urge everyone to dig deep and provide as much as they can to help fund the legal fight to save Pippa and go to our website and make a donation at www.spuc.org.uk/donate. And we also ask for your prayers too.”
Mr Deighan added: “There is nothing I would wish more for to mark John Smeaton’s retirement than a verdict which reverses the original court decision and orders the continuation of treatment for little Pippa.”
Pippa was born in April 2015 and initially developed normally, but in December 2016 she became unwell and began to suffer seizures. Since she was 20-months-old she has fought various virus conditions which have left her brain damaged and for the last two years she has been in hospital.
Paula stays at supported accommodation in Ronald McDonald House Evelina London a short walk from the hospital helping families to be as close as possible to her daughter.
Specialists have diagnosed acute necrotising encephalopathy and those treating Pippa at the Evelina Children’s Hospital in London said life-support treatment should end when evidence was heard last month.
Hospital bosses asked Mr Justice Poole to rule that ending treatment and allowing Pippa to die would be lawful and in her best interests. The judge was told during evidence that the youngster is in a vegetative state and has no awareness.
He ruled specialists could lawfully stop treatment but said it should continue for a short period to give time to mount an appeal. Paula, who told the court Pippa’s father is dead, disagrees and wants her daughter to be placed on a portable ventilator and allowed home, and wanted the judge to authorise a home-care trial.
After the hearing she said: “I am devastated. I want Pippa to have every possible chance to come home and be with her family.”
She said evidence shows that Pippa is not in pain and two independent medical experts believe home care is worth trying and added:
“I don’t understand why the hospital and the court wouldn’t let me find out whether Pippa could come home to be cared for with all her family around her, when two independent doctors from reputable hospitals in England both said that they thought this was worth trying.
“Instead, the court has decided that all Pippa’s treatment should be withdrawn so that she dies.”
Mr Justice Poole paid tribute to tribute to Paula’s resilience and devotion and said: “Ms Parfitt has fought as hard for Pippa as any parent could.”
But he added: “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 said he could not “give weight” to Ms Paula’s view that home care would improve Pippa’s condition.
The judge said that view was “at odds” with the unanimous view of the clinicians and medical experts and added: “It is agreed by all the medical witnesses that Pippa has no conscious awareness of her environment or interactions with others. Therefore, there would be no benefit to her from being in a home bedroom as opposed to a hospital unit.
“Family members may be able to spend more time with her at home in a more peaceful and welcoming environment, but she would not be aware of their visits or of the benefit to others. She would not be aware of any of the changes in her environment or in her care regime.”
But Paula said: “Pippa has survived the last two years which shows she wants to survive.
“I have a strong Christian faith and I’m keeping my faith in God. They have tried to talk me into switching off Pippa’s life support. But she’s still there and that is not God’s will. He would have taken her by now if He had wanted her. She is amazing.
“I am convinced she knows what is going on. Hand on heart. She is aware I am here and knows her family.
“Before she was ill I taught her to pray, she put her hands together and said: ‘Jesus’. I am trying to follow the way of Jesus. To God be the glory. Always.”
Expressing her thanks to SPUC, she added: “Please tell everyone at SPUC I am really appreciative of what they are doing for us. Thank you so much.”
Picture: Pippa Knight. (SPUC).