An international standoff has broken out over a desperately ill 2-year-old girl in England, where an American father battles British doctors who want to unplug his life support device.
Severely damaged to the brain at birth, little Alta Fixsler has been on a ventilator all her life, needs a feeding tube and is suffering from seizures. She cannot maintain a core body temperature, or even blink, sometimes needing to close her eyes with duct tape.
His doctors at Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital believe Alta has “no conscious conscience,” and English courts have backed the decision of medical experts to let Alta die.
But Alta’s father Abraham Fixsler, who attended the Brooklyn yeshiva in his youth, continues to fight for his life.
“There is no reason to kill my daughter like this,” he urged the Post.
The family’s predicament in the 11th hour caught the bipartisan attention of powerful American politicians.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is pushing for the family to travel to the United States.
“My heart breaks for the Fixsler family,” Schumer told the Post.
There are doctors in the United States and Israel, where the family once lived, ready to treat Alta, the desperate father said.
“There are a lot of places in the world where I can take care of my daughter and they would be happy to take care of her for the long term,” said Fixsler, 28, who accused the UK government of keeping Alta and his family “held hostage”. . “
” Let me go. That’s all I’m saying, ”said Fixsler, who is also the father of an 8-year-old son.
“Doctors don’t think she has a quality of life,” Fixsler said. “But I think she has a quality of life.”
“It’s something very, very painful.”
The family have been fighting for Alta in UK courts since 2019 and have suffered a series of losses as the case slowly progressed through the court system. In May a High Court judge ruled that the life support could be removed. On July 9, the country’s Court of Appeals upheld the ruling, saying the ruling was in Alta’s best interests.
So far, the British government has refused to let Alta go. The problem is not one of bureaucracy, but rather the wish of its current doctors not to see his life extended elsewhere, according to court documents.
“It cannot be said that it is in Alta’s best interests to be transferred to Israel for life-sustaining treatment to continue,” High Court Judge Alistair MacDonald said in his decision to June.
Letting their daughter die would violate Hasidic Jewish beliefs that are deeply rooted in the family.
“Our value of life is rooted in our religious education. Orthodox Judaism encourages the pursuit of life until all means are exhausted, ”family spokesman Yossi Gestetner told the Post.
The family moved to England five years ago to be closer to Alta’s grandparents.
Alta was born prematurely in 2018 and initially showed no signs of life, forcing doctors to resuscitate her. Left severely deprived of oxygen, with severe brain and nerve damage, doctors said the girl had no hope of a cure, court records show.
But Fixsler, who holds US and Israeli citizenship and is a legal resident of England, said he was encouraged by doctors overseas, who said there may still be superior treatment options not available. for the price-conscious English socialized health system.
The family are currently awaiting a hearing to determine whether England’s highest court will hear their case. No hearing date has been set.
As the saga progressed, the case gained international attention and electrified the Jewish community around the world. The family’s legal bills – over $ 340,000 to date – have been paid thanks to crowdfunding donations.
Israel offered to take Alta Fixsler and continue his treatment there. The former president of the country, Reuven Rivlin, personally pressured Prince Charles of England.
“There are a lot of organizations trying to deal with Alta and save her life and prevent unplugging and killing this girl,” Rabbi David Niederman, executive director of the United Jewish Organizations of Williamsburg and North Brooklyn, told The Post.
Schumer took the lead in the United States, get a visa, and sending a letter to British Ambassador to the United States, Karen Pierce, demanding that no health decisions be made against the family’s wishes and that she be allowed to travel to the United States.
“Her father is an American citizen and we will continue to fight until she is allowed to come. Her life is on the line and she is a beautiful 2 year old girl, ”said Schumer.
New Jersey Senators Cory Booker and Robert Menendez sent a letter to Pierce saying their state’s Phoenix Center for Rehabilitation and Pediatrics was ready and willing to take Alta.
Ten Republican senators also wrote to President Biden. “We are deeply disturbed that the child of an American citizen is being treated in this way
way, in a country with which we have a deep alliance and a special relationship, ”they wrote. “We urge you to advocate with Prime Minister Johnson on behalf of the Fixsler family. “
The White House has not responded to repeated requests from The Post.
“Under UK law, the decision regarding Alta’s welfare lies with independent justice, not the UK government. The courts are required by law to make a decision based on what is in Alta’s best interests, ”Toby Usnik, representative of the British Consulate General in New York, told The Post.