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Woman damaged kidneys taking overdose in failed suicide bid

Woman damaged kidneys taking overdose in failed suicide bid

A woman in the UK who refused life-saving kidney treatment after saying she had lost her "sparkle" had damaged her kidneys when taking a drug overdose in a failed suicide bid, a Court of Protection judge heard.

She then refused to have kidney dialysis treatment and doctors asked a Court of Protection judge for a ruling on her mental capacity.

Specialists argued - at a hearing before Mr Justice MacDonald in London in November - that she had a ''dysfunction of the mind'' which made her unable to make decisions about treatment.

And the London-based King's College Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which had responsibility for the woman's care, asked the judge to rule that it would be in her best interests if treatment was ''imposed'' and restraint and sedation used if necessary.

But one of the woman's daughters said her mother wanted to die because she thought that she had lost her ''sparkle''.

She said her mother was mentally capable of deciding to refuse medical treatment.

Mr Justice MacDonald dismissed the application by hospital bosses.

The judge said he was not satisfied that hospital bosses had proved that she lacked the mental capacity to decide to refuse dialysis - although he said they had been right to bring the case to court.

She died shortly afterwards.

Mr Justice MacDonald was told that the woman had a number of daughters - including one in her teens - and a grandchild, the judge heard.

She had faced a number of "problems" before attempting suicide, including failed marriages and financial difficulties, he heard.

One adult daughter told him that her mother's life had "to all appearances" been fairly glamorous.

And she said her mother did not want to be poor, "ugly" and "old".

"She has said the most important thing for her is her sparkly lifestyle," said the daughter.

"She kept saying she doesn't want to live without her sparkle and she thinks she has lost her sparkle."

The daughter had told Mr Justice MacDonald that family members would be devastated if the woman died.

But she had added: "We think it is a horrible decision. We don't like the decision at all. But I cannot get away from the fact that she understands it."

She had told Mr Justice MacDonald that she was speaking for her mother's family.

Her mother knew what she was doing and was mentally capable of deciding to refuse dialysis, said the daughter.

"We have told her countless times, 'mummy, they have said your kidneys will get better - do you understand that?'" the daughter told the judge.

"She said 'yes, but I don't care if they get better. I don't want to live'."

The daughter said her mother had told her: "I am not going to be poor, be ugly and live in a council house."

Her mother had added: "I don't want to be going to Nando's near the hospital as the highlight of my day. I don't want to live in a council house.

"I am not being poor."

The woman had suffered financial difficulties, Mr Justice MacDonald heard.

"She thinks the highlight of her day will be occasionally getting to go out to Nando's," said the daughter. "It is not going to be racing or being on the yacht as it was before."

The daughter told the judge: "She always told me she didn't want to be old."

She said her mother felt that she had enjoyed a "good innings".

"Mummy has always had an incredible ability for getting what she wants and getting that without any cost to herself," the daughter told the judge.

"She has never worked as far as I am really aware. She has done bits of au pairing before I was born. But since I was born nothing.

"Yet she has never gone without a manicure. She has had various cosmetic procedures. She has had champagne every Friday.

"She has had a life that to all appearances has been fairly glamorous. She has had a very good life. She feels like she is too old to do it anymore.

"She has said to me several times, 'I am not going to be an old granny'."