by Sadiya Chowdhury, Sky News
The parents of a seriously ill child are pleading with the NHS to let their daughter go home for what could be the last days of her life.
Alta Fixsler, two, had a brain injury at birth and has been in hospital since the day she was born.
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Last month a judge ruled it was not in her best interests for Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust to continue life-sustaining treatment, after the trust said she has no chance of recovery.
Her parents, Abraham and Chaya Fixsler, had argued that such a move was against their rights as parents and their faith as Hasidic Jews.
They are now in a legal fight with the care provider to bring Alta home for the end of her treatment. They told Sky News the trust has refused to allow her home on health and safety grounds which they say they are rushing to address.
“I want to take her home, we love her, we want her, and I want to give her everything I can,” Alta’s mother Chaya said as she showed us around a newly refurbished room in their Manchester home.
There are no colourful walls or baby mobiles hanging over cots, no toys or family photographs. The space resembles a hospital room, with a grey sofa and plain walls. Abraham and Chaya admit they have not dared to dream of creating a children’s nursery for Alta, keeping their expectations low but their hopes high.
“She’s part of our family. Every child deserves to be a part of a family,” Chaya said.
The hospital is 25 minutes’ drive from the Fixslers’ home in Salford. Abraham and Chaya say this means they cannot always visit her when the hospital calls with any concerns.
They worry they may miss the last moments of their daughter’s life if she is not at home with them when treatment ends.
“Even when someone is calling you on Shabbat,” Abraham explains, referring to Saturdays when Hasidic Jews do not use transport or electronic items, “when you’re not talking on the phone but if it’s for life then we do everything, I was not allowed to go by car so I walked from here to the hospital. [It] was about two hours or one and a half hour walk.”
A spokesperson for Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust said: “We recognise that this is an incredibly difficult time for Alta’s family and we will continue to support them. Due to patient confidentiality, and ongoing legal proceedings, we are unable to comment further.”
The Fixslers are being supported by their local Jewish community, including Rabbi Jonathan Guttentag, who says the hospital should show discretion.
Rabbi Guttentag, International Liaison at the Coalition for Jewish Values, said: “To force parents, to invade this family’s structure in this way and to take away this decision from parents is a matter of faith but also a matter of humanity.”