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Author response: Right Brain: Withholding treatment from a child with an epileptic encephalomyopathy


We thank Dr. Sethi for his interest in our article1 and his commentary. However, we do not agree that no effort or expense was spared to try to save Charlie. In fact, by withholding treatment from him, Great Ormond Street Hospital was looking to do exactly that—to spare expense, effort, and in their minds, the suffering of a child. As detailed in our article, money was available and offers were made by other hospitals to provide experimental therapy to Charlie. However, these were not utilized because the British court system did not believe experimental therapy was in his best interest. From the utilitarian perspective, it was appropriate not to give Charlie the experimental therapy, because it was uncertain that this therapy would benefit him in either the short or long term, and it certainly would not have benefited other people aside from his parents. When weighing the principles of beneficence, nonmaleficence, and autonomy, however, we believe it would have been appropriate to give him the therapy.

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