Right To Die: Woman Kept Alive Against Her Will With Forced Feeding Tubes Due To Paperwork Mixup

An 81-year-old English woman was kept alive against her will for nearly two years via a forced feeding tube despite having a living will that explicitly detailed her wishes not to be treated to prolong her life. Now, the family of the woman, who has since deceased, has received monetary compensation for the document mix-up which led to this grave mistake.

In October 2012, Brenda Grant of Warwickshire UK suffered from a stroke that left her unable to walk, talk or swallow, The BBC reported. Grant was admitted to the hospital where she was given a feeding tube. The elderly woman tried to pull out the tube herself but was fitted with mittens to prevent this. After a three-month stay in the hospital, Grant was then moved to a nursing home, something her daughter Tracy Barker told The BBC her mother had said she never wanted to happen. Here she remained until her passing 22 months later.

Related: California right-to-die law saw 111 people kill themselves in first six months 

Due to a paperwork mix-up, neither the hospital staff nor Grant’s own family knew that she had a living will that set out her wishes regarding healthcare in the case that she ever became seriously ill and unable to make her own decisions.The will stated that Grant did not want to be kept alive in the case that she was no longer of sound mind or had experienced a specified ailments, The Times reported. 

12_06_hand Brenda Grant was forcibly kept alive for 22 months against her wishes. PASCAL LACHENAUD/AFP/Getty Images

Without the ability to speak, Grant was unable to tell others of her will's existence. It was not until her doctor alerted Grant’s family of the will’s existence that the feeding tubes were finally withdrawn. Grant died several days later, 22 months after her initial stroke.

“I didn't want my mum to die, nobody wants their mum to die," Barker, told The BBC ."But my mum died the day she had that stroke because she was never, ever capable of doing anything that she did before.”

The trust stated that the mix-up was due to a clerical error in which they “failed to store the advance directive in a way that it could easily be noted,” the BBC reported.

Related: Dying Dutch: Euthanasia spreads across Europe

Living wills state your medical wishes in the unfortunate case that you are not able to express them yourself. They also exist in the U.S., although a 2016 report by the American College of Emergency Physicians found that nearly two-thirds of Americans do not have one. Lack of awareness was the number one reason for this.

Now, over three years since Grant’s passing, her family has been granted monetary compensation settled outside of court from the The George Eliot Hospital Trust, a government organization in the UK that provides services to hospitals throughout North Warwickshire, South West Leicestershire and North Coventry. According to Coventry Telegraph the company claims to have since learned from their mistake.