07:56, April 15 41 0 theguardian.com

2018-04-15 07:56:18
Isaiah Haastrup's father forced to wait for autopsy before burying son

The father of Isaiah Haastrup has spoken of his anguish that he has not yet been able to bury his son, who died after doctors won a court battle to remove the profoundly brain-damaged one-year-old from life support.

Five weeks after Isaiah died, a coroner is investigating the cause of death and an autopsy is to be conducted.

Medical experts had told the high court that Isaiah, who suffered catastrophic brain injury at birth and was being treated at King’s College hospital in south London, was unable to breathe independently, and was likely to die within a few minutes of being removed from the ventilator that he had been on since birth.

He managed to breathe for eight hours on his own before dying on 7 March after his parents had exhausted all legal means to prevent life support being removed.

Isaiah’s father, Lanre Haastrup, said the manner of his son’s death now raised questions about his medical treatment.

“It is just further anguish for us,” said Haastrup who, with Isaiah’s mother, Takesha Thomas, was refused permission to appeal against the court judgment and failed to get the case heard before the European court of human rights.

“We want to go ahead and just bury Isaiah now. We hope he will be released for burial next week after the autopsy.”

He said the south London coroner, Andrew Harris, was investigating the couple’s concerns that Isaiah had managed to breathe independently for so long, despite what doctors had told the court. “He breathed for eight hours by himself. He started breathing normally, by himself, without any support,” said Haastrup.

Haastrup said he now questioned Isaiah’s treatment during his short life, believing it was possible his son could have been weaned off the ventilator. “Isaiah was restricted from breathing by himself. That is what it is. Basically he was stopped breathing by himself. With all these tubes inside him from the very beginning. And he could have breathed, he could have been weaned off.”

This would have allowed the couple to take him home and care for him in the community, which has been their wish, he said. “[Isaiah] didn’t just breathe – he breathed smoothly,” Haastrup said. “In the last moments of his life you see him breathing constantly. And medical notes support that.”

He also questioned if tubes attaching Isaiah to the ventilator could have prevented him learning to breathe independently by causing damage to his lungs and trachea.



Haastrup had reluctantly agreed to the autopsy though the family were distressed at its invasive nature. “We are going through all of this again. Having battled during his life we are now battling in death,” he said.

Judge Mr Justice MacDonald ruled on 29 January it was in Isaiah’s best interests for treatment to be withdrawn. Doctors said he could not move or breathe independently and had profoundly depressed consciousness after suffering catastrophic brain damage through being deprived of oxygen at birth.



At the time of Isaiah’s death, a spokesman for King’s College hospital trust said it recognised how difficult a time it had been for the family, and said Isaiah had suffered an irreversible brain injury following a rare and life-threatening obstetric emergency during his mother’s labour.

“Since birth he had been fully dependent on life support with no prospect of improvement, and throughout we actively sought to engage and involve Isaiah’s parents in his care,” the spokesman said.

He had added that the trust “always provided Isaiah with the very best care, and the decision to apply to the court to withdraw treatment was only made after careful consideration and after consultation with the family”.

A response to Haastrup’s comments has been sought from King’s College hospital trust.Ends

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