Single mother loses Supreme Court fight to keep five-year-old alive

Single mother loses Supreme Court fight to keep brain-damaged five-year-old Pippa Knight alive after judges ruled life support treatment should end

  • Pippa Knight is in a vegetative state at the Evelina Children’s Hospital in London
  • Her mother Paula Parfitt wanted the five-year-old to leave hospital for homecare 
  • But the doctors treating Pippa said that her life-support treatment should end 
  • Ms Parfitt has now been refused permission to mount Supreme Court challenge

A single mother has lost a Supreme Court fight to keep her brain-damaged five-year-old alive after judges ruled her life support treatment should end.

Paula Parfitt, from Strood, Kent, wanted daughter Pippa Knight to leave hospital for specialists to stage a homecare trial.

But doctors treating Pippa, who is in a vegetative state at the Evelina Children’s Hospital in London, disagreed and said life-support treatment should end.

Ms Parfitt, 41, had already lost fights in the High Court and Court of Appeal and wanted Supreme Court justices to consider the case.

She first had to get permission to stage a challenge to the appeal judges’ ruling.

A Supreme Court spokeswoman said on Friday that a panel of three justices had refused to give Ms Parfitt permission to mount a Supreme Court challenge after considering a written application.

Paula Parfitt, from Strood, Kent, wanted daughter Pippa Knight (pictured together) to leave hospital for specialists to stage a homecare trial 

Ms Parfitt (pictured at the Royal Courts of Justice) had already lost fights in the High Court and Court of Appeal and wanted Supreme Court justices to consider the case

Doctors treating Pippa, who is in a vegetative state at the Evelina Children’s Hospital in London, disagreed with Ms Parfitt and said life-support treatment should end 

Campaign group the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (Spuc) has paid for lawyers to represent Ms Parfitt and was willing to fund a Supreme Court challenge.

Spuc’s deputy chief executive, John Deighan, said Ms Parfitt was ‘understandably devastated’ by the Supreme Court decision.

A High Court judge ruled against Ms Parfitt earlier this year.

Mr Justice Poole decided that treatment could lawfully end and said Pippa should be allowed to die.


Pippa was born in 2015 and developed normally, but in December 2016 she became unwell and began to suffer seizures and a court has heard she is now unaware of her surroundings

Doctors had diagnosed acute necrotising encephalopathy and the judge, who heard that Pippa’s father was dead, described the case as ‘heart-rending’ 

Three appeal judges had upheld Mr Justice Poole’s decision after a Court of Appeal hearing.

Mr Justice Poole heard evidence at a trial in the Family Division of the High Court in London in December, and delivered a ruling in January.

The judge, who heard that Pippa’s father was dead, described the case as ‘heart-rending’.

Pippa was born in April 2015, and is close to her sixth birthday, and initially developed normally, but in December 2016 she became unwell and began to suffer seizures, the judge heard.

Doctors had diagnosed acute necrotising encephalopathy.

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