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Australian court allows couple to let infant die

An Australian family court has granted a Victorian couple's plea to have a "simple plastic tube" removed from their newborn baby's body, knowing it could kill her.

world Updated: Mar 17, 2011 16:37 IST

An Australian family court has granted a Victorian couple's plea to have a "simple plastic tube" removed from their newborn baby's body, knowing it could kill her.

The parents of severely brain-damaged "Baby D" applied to the Family Court to have their newborn's endotracheal tube taken out and lifesaving treatment withheld after advice from the hospital and medical professionals, the Herald Sun reported.

An endotracheal tube is a specific type of tracheal tube or windpipe that is nearly always inserted through the mouth or nose.

Ruling that the "extubation" procedure should take place, Justice Peter Young Wednesday ordered doctors to give Baby D palliative care, including medication and sedation, if she developed respiratory distress or collapse. But life-prolonging treatment should be withheld.

The little girl, a twin, was born 13 weeks premature in August 2010 and an endotracheal tube was inserted to help her breathe. But Baby D's larynx became swollen and she developed an airway obstruction.

When doctors tried to take the tube out, her condition deteriorated. The procedure was "exceptionally difficult" and it took 35 minutes to put the tube back in, leaving her with severe brain damage.

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