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Parents back radiotherapy refusal

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BBC News
21 December 2006

The parents of an eight-year-old girl with a rare kidney cancer are backing what they say is her decision to stop her treatment.

Leah-Beth Richards, from Beddau near Pontypridd, has been battling Wilms Tumour since she was two.

Now, her family say, she does not want any more radiotherapy and they are fighting any pressure to continue.

Cardiff and Vale NHS Trust said it acts only in patients' best interests but will not treat without consent.

Six years ago Leah-Beth was diagnosed with the rare cancer which affects the kidneys and only develops in around 70 children in the UK each year.

She has been in remission twice but recently suffered a relapse and is now at the Children's Hospital of Wales in Cardiff.

We'd rather her have some special months than painful years
Leah-Beth's mother Kathryn Richards

Now, her family says, she has told them she does not want to carry on with treatment.

Her mother Kathryn Richards told the South Wales Echo she wants her daughter to be able to enjoy the rest of her life without pain.

"I just can't put her through it again," she said.

"I'm thinking about her quality of life now, not quantity. We'd rather her have some special months than painful years."

Mrs Richards claimed that when they told the hospital about Leah-Beth's decision not to carry on with treatment, they were told they did not have a choice.

We recommend treatments that help our patients to recover or manage their illness as best as possible, and we have a responsibility to act in our patients' best interests Consultant paediatrician Colin Powell

Consultant paediatrician Colin Powell, assistant clinical director for child health for Cardiff and Vale NHS Trust, said the Richards family was "clearly facing a very difficult time".

He added: "We are continuing to support Leah-Beth and her parents, and to discuss the appropriate care with them directly."

Dr Powell said they could not discuss individual cases because of patients' confidentiality.

"However, we want to reassure everyone that we always put our patients' medical and individual needs first.

"We recommend treatments that help our patients to recover or manage their illness as best as possible, and we have a responsibility to act in our patients' best interests.

"We also want to reassure everyone that we only carry out treatment where we have been given consent."

Earlier this month, Josie Grove from Corbridge, Northumberland, explained her decision not to continue treatment for terminal cancer and instead to enjoy the rest of her life with her family.

The 16-year-old has had two unsuccessful bone marrow transplants and a course of anti-cancer drugs. She was nominated for an award for her bravery by her nurses.



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