(AFP) – A British girl who died after a terminal illness won the right to have her body frozen in an unprecedented ruling, the High Court said on Friday.
The 14-year-old girl from London had written to a judge explaining she wanted a chance to “live longer” after suffering from a rare form of cancer.
She had researched and decided to undergo cryonics, the process through which people are frozen with the hope they will be brought back to life with the help of future medical advancements.
“I am only 14-years-old and I don’t want to die but I know I am going to die,” she had written to the judge.
“I think being cryo-preserved gives me a chance to be cured and woken up — even in hundreds of years’ time.”
The girl launched legal action to request that her mother, who supported the child’s wishes, be the only person allowed to make decisions about the disposal of her body.
Her parents are divorced and the teenager’s father initially objected to his daughter’s plan.
Judge Peter Jackson ruled in the girl’s favour in October following a private hearing at the High Court of England and Wales in London.
The girl was too ill to attend the hearing and has since died, with her remains being taken to the US and cryogenically frozen.
The case was not reported on before Friday in keeping with the wishes of the teenager, who also asked that no-one involved be identified.
Jackson said his decision was based on the dispute between the girl’s parents and the best outcome for the child’s welfare, not the science itself, in what he described as an unprecedented ruling.
“It is no surprise that this application is the only one of its kind to have come before the courts in this country — and probably anywhere else,” he said.
“It is an example of the new questions that science poses to the law — perhaps most of all to family law,” Jackson added.
The judge described the case as a “tragic combination” of childhood illness and family conflict, while praising the girl for the “valiant way” she approached the situation.
For the last eight years of her life the teenager had not had face-to-face contact with her father, who raised his concerns about the costs and consequences of his daughter being frozen.
“Even if the treatment is successful and she is brought back to life in, let’s say, 200 years, she may not find any relative and she might not remember things,” he was said to have told Jackson.
The father’s position however shifted during the case, saying that he respected his daughter’s decision.