A battle over the fate of a child with incurable brain damage is entering its final phase as doctors prepare to withdraw life support.
Judges in the UK have ruled that treatment for Alta Fixsler, 2, should be stopped because she suffers constant pain and will never recover from her injuries.
Despite the objections of her parents, who are devout Hasidic Jews, doctors for England’s National Health Service could end life support as early as this week.
Alta’s parents want to take her home for her final moments after failing to persuade the courts to allow her to fly to the US or Israel.
“Alta should be in our house for the last moments of her life,” her father, whose name was withheld in court papers, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Monday.
“It could take minutes, hours, days, weeks [or] even months. Give us the last wishes that we want, to be with our child in our comfort zone and our house.
“It’s not easy to think about it. If this is what they are going to do, it’s going to be sad and a big tragedy for us.”
Born in 2018, Alta suffered catastrophic brain injuries at birth, which means she requires life support to breathe and has to be fed through a tube.
Her parents accept that there is no prospect of her surviving beyond early childhood, but reject the view that she is in constant pain.
They proposed to take her to Israel so that she could receive treatment and then be buried according to Jewish customs.
She also has offers of support in America, and was granted a visa last month after senior US senator Chuck Schumer intervened on the family’s behalf.
“All the Fixslers want is to follow their faith and get their little girl the best care in the process,” said Mr Schumer, who is Jewish.
Doctors treating Alta in Manchester, north-west England, said that transporting her abroad would add to her pain and suffering for no medical benefit.
Judges said they were concerned that a transfer to Israel would lead to continued treatment that would not be in Alta’s interests.
They said that Alta’s religious background did not justify prolonging her life, partly because she could never have any awareness of her family’s beliefs.
English judges dismissed an appeal on July 9 and the European Court of Human Rights rejected a further appeal this month.