News from Europe

A Polish man has been starved to death in an English hospital

A sad story took place in recent days. In a hospital in Plymouth in the south-west of England; a Polish man was sentenced by British courts and the Derriford Hospital to die of hunger and thirst. The state of the patient was previously described as "stable."


Mr Sławomir, who has been living in the UK for several years, suffered several dozen minutes of cardiac arrest and brain damage in November last year. He was in a state of minimal awareness. In many similar cases, patients in such a condition can be awakened and regain at least partially efficiency. The man was unable to communicate freely with others. However, when his relatives were still able to visit him in the hospital just before Christmas, he reacted to their presence.

At the request of the Plymouth Hospital, the Guardianship and Supreme Courts of Great Britain, as well as the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, have authorised the patient to be disconnected from the equipment supplying him with food and fluids.

Mr Sławomir breathed on his own. His wife agreed with the “death sentence”, but his mother, two sisters and a niece fought for the patient’s life until the end. Willingness to treat and rehabilitate the patient was reported, among others, by the hospital of the Ministry of Interior and Administration and a clinic in the Polish capital Warsaw.

Professor Wojciech Maksymowicz, a neurosurgeon and neurotraumatologist from the University of Warmia and Mazuria in the northern Polish city of Olsztyn, judged that bringing Mr Sławomir to Poland would not pose a particular threat. He recalled that the court ruling took place in December, while the patient was still connected to a ventilator. Later, he was breathing on his own and no longer required artificial life support. The only necessary action in his case was watering and feeding, as well as other elementary care procedures.

During the court proceedings, Mr Słąwomir was disconnected from the equipment supplying food and fluids several times. The last time was on Monday the 26th of January.

The story of Mr Sławomir reveals the slippery slope to which what the culture of death can lead.  

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