The Fixsler family with baby Alta (courtesy of the family) (courtesy of the family)
Fixsler family

Family of two-year-old Alta Fixsler will appeal decision; hospitals in Israel and US had offered continuing care.

By United With Israel Staff

A British appeals court on Monday upheld a lower court’s ruling that a hospital could remove two-year-old Israeli girl Alta Fixsler from life support, despite the objections of her parents, who are now appealing to Britain’s Supreme Court.

Due to complications during birth, 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, but has “no prospect” of recovery.

The parents, Orthodox 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. Alta’s father, Abraham Fixsler, also has U.S. citizenship. Hospitals in Israel and New Jersey have agreed to accept Alta.

Philanthropists have already agreed to cover the cost of medical air transport at no cost to the family or the British government.

But the issue escalated into a legal battle when the Manchester hospital refused to discharge Alta. The Fixslers sued the Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust, which operates the hospital. In May, the High Court of London ruled that transferring Alta to Israel was not in the girl’s interests, saying “continuing the treatment would impose an additional burden on [Alta].”

Upholding the previous ruling, Lord Justice Jonathan Baker wrote on Monday, “I know that Alta’s devoted parents will be profoundly distressed by the outcome of this appeal. Every parent and grandparent – indeed every person – from every community will have the deepest sympathy for them, and for Alta’s loving sibling. The strong support they draw from their faith and their community will be a source of consolation, but the emotional pain they are suffering is very hard to endure.”

“I understand why they have pursued this appeal and deeply regret that I cannot do more to help them. As a judge, however, my duty is to apply the law, and in this case, the law requires me to dismiss the appeal for the reasons I have given.

The family’s plight caught the attention of political heavyweights in Israel, the U.S. and UK.

Before stepping down from his post, Israeli president Reuven Rivlin appealed to Prince Charles to help the family. Then Israeli health minister Yuli Edelstein made a similar to his British counterpart, Health Secretary Matt Hancock.

U.S. Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) obtained an emergency visa for Alta and notified British authorities he is also working to secure her U.S. citizenship too. The Board of Deputies of British Jews, as well as Britain’s Chief Rabbi have also been involved.

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