A teenager with a terminal heart condition who won the legal right to refuse a transplant has changed her mind and decided she wants to live.
At the time she was told a heart transplant would be risky and her chance of survival was slim, but since then doctors have reassessed her and decided there is now a good chance of making a full recovery as she has grown and is now stronger.
Hannah Jones, now 14, has asked to be placed on the heart transplant waiting list.
Speaking from Hereford Hospital, Hannah explained why she changed her mind.
She said: “I know I decided I definitely didn’t want this, but everyone’s entitled to change their mind.
“I fell ill last Sunday but I just thought I’d overdone it on my birthday.
“Actually, it turned out, it was my kidneys. The right side of my heart isn’t beating at all and, after lots of tests, I realised there were more benefits to having a new heart to staying like I was.
“If I had a new heart, I’d be on less tablets than I am at the moment. I take 27, but afterwards it would only be about 12.”
Doctors said they could not put Hannah on dialysis to treat her kidney problem because her heart is not strong enough to cope.
Hannah is expected to return home in the next few days to wait for a new heart.
Her mother Kirsty Jones, a former nurse, said that she was delighted with Hannah’s decision.
She added: “I’m absolutely happy to leave the decision to her. But I’m glad she made this decision.
“Hannah’s incredibly brave and we are behind her 100 per cent.”
Last year some press reports dubbed this a ‘right to die’ case, but experts said it was really about whether the teenager’s decision to refuse damaging treatment at the time should have been accepted without question or not.
If Hannah had been an adult the issue would not have arisen.
At the age of five Hannah Jones was diagnosed with leukaemia, but the very strong drugs used to treat the cancer caused damage to her heart.
Having spent much of her life in and out of hospital, Hannah decided she did not want to go through with the heart transplant.
But the hospital challenged her decision and began legal proceedings.
Medical law and ethics expert Dr Deborah Bowman explained that the law makes a distinction between a minor’s ability to consent to treatment and to refuse it.
Consent is usually accepted without question, but when a child says ‘no’ to treatment which appears to be in his or her best interests, the local healthcare trust is allowed to challenge that choice.
Rosemary Bennett of The Times newspaper defended the hospital’s actions at the time, asking “who can blame a doctor for stopping to question why a 13-year-old child should want to stop fighting for life?”.