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Charlotte Wyatt's Parents: We Have New Evidence Our Baby Is Improving
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
February 28, 2005

PORTSMOUTH, ENGLAND--The parents of 16-month-old Charlotte Wyatt say that they have new evidence -- supported by six independent medical experts -- that their daughter's condition improving.

In fact, they told BBC News, their baby is happy, alert and aware of her surroundings.

"She's smiling, she's looking around, she knows her whereabouts; she's a pretty happy child," said Darren Wyatt of his daughter. "She's not in constant pain and there's great proof of that as well."

Mr. Wyatt said he and his wife, Debbie, plan to present the new evidence later this month to try to convince a judge that Charlotte deserves life-sustaining measures if she stops breathing. The couple did not give more details.

Last October, Mr. Justice Hedley gave doctors at St. Mary's Children's Hospital permission to refuse a ventilator for the girl if she can no longer breathe on her own.

In late January, he gave Charlotte's parents until Easter to present new evidence of their claim that her condition has improved.

Charlotte weighed just one ounce and had serious heart and lung problems when was born three months premature on October 21, 2003.

Since her birth, doctors at the hospital have maintained that she is deaf, blind, that she makes no movement on her own and that she feels no sensations except constant pain. They convinced the court that it would not be in Charlotte's best interest to be kept alive if she stops breathing on her own. They predicted that Charlotte would develop an infection and stop breathing at some point during the winter.

Her parents have argued that doctors did not correctly diagnose their daughter's condition and are condemning her to death. They have said that Charlotte now responds to light, sound and cuddling.

Hospital officials argued that any signs of improvement in Charlotte's condition have more to do with the medical staff's skill and expertise than the baby's ability to survive.

Disability rights groups have been watching cases such as Charlotte's with interest. Her situation underscores a growing disagreement with medical professionals in the United Kingdom and elsewhere over who should decide whether a person with certain disabilities or medical conditions should live or die.

Mr. Wyatt said: "Well, I think the doctors need to be in our shoes really, because if it was one of the doctors' children, if they've got children of their own, would they be saying the same thing?"

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