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Judge decides patient can die rather than live with stoma bag

July 2020

Rebecca Porta, CEO of Bowel & Cancer Research
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A judge has ruled that a patient with bowel problems should be allowed to die rather than live with a stoma bag.

A stoma is an opening in the abdomen and a bag is attached to collect faeces or urine.

One bowel cancer charity said it was ‘tragic’ that death is seen as a better option than living with the bag.

The man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, had made a written ‘advanced decision’ saying he would not want to live with that.

He was being treated in intensive care after surgery. Doctors said he had a 60 to 70 percent chance of surviving but would need a permanent stoma.

Barnsley Hospital NHS Foundation Trust said that following the Court’s decisions, ‘the Trust will now proceed, in discussion with the patient’s parents, to withdraw treatment’.

Crohn’s disease and bowel cancer charities have raised concerns over the case, saying that people with stomas live ‘fulfilled lives’.

Rebecca Porta, CEO of Bowel & Cancer Research, said, ‘We were greatly saddened to learn of the challenges faced by this young man and that he feels he cannot live with a stoma.’

She continued, ‘There are an estimated 200,000 people — of all ages — living with a stoma in the UK and, whilst some may find them difficult to live with, most are glad that their stoma is literally a life-saver, treating a range of illnesses.

‘With the right support and help many people are able to lead a full life — finding a job, building relationships, having a family, fulfilling their dreams. It is tragic that he should think death is a better option.’