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Man In Right To Life Battle Smelt Perfume, Family Tells Court

August 22, 2012

The family of a man in a vegetative state have told a court they believe he can understand them and even sniffed perfume on a scarf brought from Mecca.

In a High Court statement, they said Patient L was “able to understand us, hear us and we believe that he reacts”.

They are in dispute with Pennine Acute Hospitals Trust, which does not want to revive the 55-year-old if he worsens.

The family says the man would want every step taken to preserve his life because of his deep Muslim faith.

Mrs L described through an interpreter how she had visited her husband on the day of Eid, following the conclusion of the Muslim season of Ramadan at the weekend.

‘Wanting to believe’

She said: “I took a scarf and there was perfume he (Mr L) himself had brought from Mecca, so I put it on that scarf.

“Then we put the scarf in his hands and we felt like somebody is having a sniff, and he took a sniff of it.

“It is true sometimes he does not realise what is happening but sometimes he does.”

But an intensive care expert told London’s High Court the family’s claim Mr L could relate to them was a case of “wanting to believe” he was responding.

Patient L suffered severe brain damage in July following a third cardiac arrest and his medical team have stated he is now in a persistent vegetative state.

However, his relatives say it is too early to determine whether he is in such a state.

‘No meaningful recovery’

His family’s lawyers have stated that, if he could choose, he would never agree to a Do Not Resuscitate order because of his religious beliefs.

At the hearing at the Court of Protection, a statement from the family said they felt “strongly that L is able to understand us, hear us and we believe that he reacts”.

Intensive care expert Dr Michael Bell, who has examined Patient L under instruction from both the trust and his family, said he did not see him achieving any “meaningful neurological recovery”.

He said he had studied three videos in which Patient L’s family claimed they had seen evidence of him responding to them, but “could not see any evidence of that”, an opinion which he said was backed up by doctors, nursing staff and physiotherapists involved in his care.

Dr Bell added he could not “clinically” explain the family’s perceptions but said they could be because “they want to believe he is capable of recognising that they are there and making some response”.

The case continues.

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