Little Alta Fixsler was born eight weeks prematurely in Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital. A traumatic birth deprived Alta of oxygen for twenty-five long minutes causing severe brain injury and no expectation for her to live more than a day. But with HaShem’s help coupled with the loving embrace of her parents and Modern Medicine’s gift of the ventilator, this beloved Jewish daughter survived her first harrowing days of life. Despite Alta’s strides in weaning off ventilation and transitioning to a lower level of respiratory support or that plans were being formulated to bring her home, someone at the hospital made a series of unilateral decisions that resulted in Alta having to go back on ventilation. After that it was only a matter of time before pressure began to mount on her parents to withdraw life support under the guise of concern for her pain and no promise of recovery or a normal life. When Alta’s parents refused to consent, Manchester University Foundation Trust (NHS) went to Court against them and were granted guardianship and the right to withdraw her life support, r”l.
In conjunction with efforts being made on Alta’s behalf, Crown Heights Women for the Safety and Integrity of Israel and its many members around the world have sent the below appeal to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
To the Rt Hon Prime Minister Boris Johnson,
We were duly impressed with the United Kingdom’s humanitarian commitment pledged by yourself and fellow parliamentarians on August 18th to rescue tens of thousands of Afghanis from certain persecution and death as the Taliban take over in the wake of the US withdrawal from Afghanistan.
At the same time, however, we cannot understand why the same kind of compassion and political will has not been shown towards Alta Fixsler.
Across the globe people of goodwill from all walks of life and religions are praying for this special little girl to be given a chance.
The Lubavitcher Rebbe, the greatest lover of humanity in our time, repeatedly emphasized that acts of goodness and kindness bring light and peace to the entire world.
And so, Mr. Prime Minister, we plead with you to immediately intercede on Alta’s behalf to find a way she can leave the UK either to the US or to her home country in the State of Israel.
As we’ve no doubt you are already familiar with the particulars of Alta’s birth and her medical issues as well as the High Court’s decision, we only ask that you to consider the following three key points.
To be clear, we respect the strict separation of powers that make up the UK government and are not asking you to override in any way the Court’s ruling.
Alta and the Fixslers are Israeli citizens
Mr. Prime Minister, Alta and her parents are Israeli citizens. Avraham Fixsler is also an American citizen and Mrs. Fixsler additionally holds Hungarian citizenship. The Fixslers always intended to return to their home country and have made no application for British citizenship.
As such there can be no justification for expropriating the Fixsler’s parental rights – who are neither British citizens nor have they committed any crime on UK soil – or Alta’s right to live, simply because she sadly suffered brain injuries at birth.
Palliative care is a horribly painful way to end life
Benign sounding terms like palliative and hospice care disguise the true ordeal a person endures when life support is taken away.
Here is what happens when ventilation is withdrawn: First there is a physically painful struggle by the patient to breathe accompanied by panic, fear, and agitation – especially when the fight to live is deliberately being suppressed. Saliva and secretions begin pooling in the lungs and the sounds of death rattle in the chest.
In order to “calm and comfort” the patient during this “merciful” form of legalized murder, a powerful mix of opiates, barbiturates or analgesics must be given to keep the person sedated until he or she succumbs and dies.
As much as an adult in this state might be able to reconcile their final moments – if this has been a deliberate decision to do so [and one we do not agree with] – for anyone else, especially a child, this can only be terrifying!
How can this possibly be in Alta’s best interests?!
Yet NHS has taken it even one step further. The Court’s ruling gave room for Alta to pass away in the comfort of her parents’ home in Manchester surrounded by her loving family.
Instead, NHS unilaterally decided that Alta may only die in a hospice or in the hospital which they themselves concede is a cold, windowless environment.
Surely Mr. Prime Minister you realize the above scenarios are far more “painful” and distressing than anything that might occur during a responsible transport with appropriate pain control.
Alta does not have to die
No doubt Mr. Prime Minister you are aware that medical facilities in Israel are ready to admit Alta as a patient under their care. Surely, there is room to reevaluate this option.
But if not, we beg you to find a way Alta can be transferred to the US where Senator Charles Shumer has procured a visa for Alta to enter the country for care and where there is widespread bi-partisan support in Congress endorsing her move.
A highly qualified medical transport is already in place to transfer Alta at absolutely no cost to NHS or the UK.
Mr. Prime Minister, Rosh HaShana, the Jewish New Year, is fast approaching. This is the birthday of Mankind when Adam and Eve were created and judged. The fate of Alta should be emblematic of Humanity’s appreciation for the preciousness of every life, no matter what one’s circumstances.