Hassidic toddler Alta Fixsler from UK dies after being taken off life support

Fixsler, daughter of Hasidic Jewish parents, had been on life support since her birth at an English hospital.

Alta Fixsler pictured with her father and brother (photo credit:  COURTESY OF FIXSLER FAMILY)
Alta Fixsler pictured with her father and brother
(photo credit: COURTESY OF FIXSLER FAMILY)

Two-year-old Alta Fixsler, a Hasidic Jewish girl, has died after being taken off life support at a hospice in Manchester, northern England, after her family lost a legal battle with England's National Health Service (NHS) at the United Kingdom High Court, British media reported late Monday night.

Fixsler was born with severe brain damage and had been on life support since birth but the UK High Court ruled against the wishes of her family, that the girl's life support care should be discontinued.

Alta's parents fought the NHS to allow her to remain connected to the medical equipment keeping her alive, claiming that any cessation of life goes against the Jewish faith, to which they strictly adhere but the court ruled in May to discontinue care, siding with the NHS. According to the NHS, she was suffering and prolonging her life was futile, as she had no chance of recovery. UK medical guidelines approve ending care in such situations.

When the supreme court in the UK ruled that Alta's life support could be withdrawn, the parents appealed to the European Court of Human Rights but their petition was declined in August.

“The presumption in favor of taking all steps to preserve life, whilst strong, is also rebuttable... Life cannot be, and should not be, preserved at all costs,” the court ruled.

Fixsler suffered from permanent brain damage at birth. She could not breathe, eat or drink without medical intervention. Doctors have said that her condition would never improve.

Life support for severe cases such as Fixsler's involve monitoring of all the functions her body cannot complete for her - ventilation, nutrition, pH levels, temperature, etc. A day on life support in the intensive care unit costs the health system $3,000 a day or more, according to a study in Critical Care Medicine.

Abraham Fixler asks that his daughter be sent to Israel before she her life support is turned off, in Manchester, Britain. (credit: REUTERS)Abraham Fixler asks that his daughter be sent to Israel before she her life support is turned off, in Manchester, Britain. (credit: REUTERS)

While still in office, former president Reuven Rivlin wrote to Prince Charles appealing to him to help to allow Fixsler to be brought to Israel for treatment. US. Senator Chuck Schumer also tried to intervene, writing to UK Ambassador Karen Pierce to hold off on suspending care and even securing Fixsler a visa to seek medical care in the United States.

Fixsler is to be brought to Israel for burial, according to reports.

Hadas Labrisch contributed to this report.