The Fixsler family with baby Alta (Courtesy family) (Courtesy family)
Fixsler family

With legal options running out, family of two-year-old Alta Fixsler appealed to Prime Minister Boris Johnson to intervene.

By Pesach Benson, United With Israel

The family of an Israeli toddler born with brain-damage has appealed to Prime Minister Boris Johnson to intervene and prevent a hospital from removing their daughter’s life support.

Due to complications during birth, two-year-old Alta Fixsler has been on a respirator all her life.

The Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital wants to remove Alta’s respirator and place her in palliative care. According to the hospital, Alta can sense discomfort and has “no prospect” of recovery.

The parents, Avraham and Chaya Fixsler, Hassidic Jews and Israeli nationals, say withdrawing life support goes against their religious beliefs, and they want to transfer their daughter to a hospital in Israel. Hospitals in Israel and the U.S. have already greed to accept Alta.

Alta’s father also has U.S. citizenship.

But the hospital refused to discharge Alta, effectively trapping the girl and her family in Britain. The family took unsuccessful legal action against the Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust, which operates the hospital. The trust maintains that is in Alta’s best interests to let her die.

Over the weekend British media reported that the Trust now won’t let Alta be released to die at home, but will only transfer her to hospice or pediatric care. The Spectator wrote, “According to documents seen by The Spectator, the Trust claim that Alta’s family home is ‘inaccessible to a patient trolley and is, therefore, unsafe.’ Alta’s parents disagree.”

Ivan Lewis, a former MP who served as health minister in the governments of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown visited the Fixsler home and told The Spectator that The Trust was treating the family callously.

“There is no justification for the hospital’s flawed conclusion that Alta will not be safe at the family home. Having reviewed the evidence I am left with an uneasy feeling of discrimination against the Fixsler family because of their religious beliefs and determination to fight for the rights of their child,” Lewis said.

Avraham and Chaya Fixsler said in a statement on Friday that they only want “the very best for our little girl.”

“We ask Boris Johnson and Sajid Javid to intervene and request the Trust reconsider their position and allow Alta to come home to her family,” Javid is the UK Secretary of State for Health and Social Care.

“Akin to murder”

In upholding a lower court’s decision against the family, British High Court Justices outraged the Jewish community by saying the two-year-old girl would have disagreed with her parents.

“It is more likely than not that Alta’s point of view would be that continued life sustaining treatment would not be acceptable to her,” the High Court wrote in July.

The family’s legal options were exhausted in August when the European Court of Human Rights rejected the Fixsler’s appeal.

Rabbi Moshe Parnes, southern regional vice president of the Coalition for Jewish Values, said the Trust’s insistence on removing Alta’s life support was “akin to murder.”

“Judaism recognizes the sacred value of every human life. Once a child has been placed on a ventilator, Jewish law unequivocally prohibits deliberately discontinuing the ventilation so as to hasten the approach of death, as this is akin to murder,” Rabbi Parnes said in a statement.

“Similarly, to deny food to any person is simply a cruel act. We appeal to the good conscience and high ethical standards of Britons to respect the child’s religious traditions, and permit the helpless child to be transferred to a facility in America or to Israel willing to continue to provide the highest standards of medical care,” he added.

The two-year-old’s plight has attracted attention at some of the highest levels of government. Before stepping down as Israel’s President, Reuven Rivlin appealed to Prince Charles to help the family. And U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer helped the family obtain an expedited visa for Alta and notified British authorities he is working to secure her U.S. citizenship too.

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