Arabnews24.ca:Monday 17 July 2023 10:29 PM: The family of a brain-damaged man have called for certainty when doctors decide if he is brain dead.
Andy Casey, 20, from south London, has been in St George's Hospital in Tooting for a week after being punched in the back of the head.
His family say doctors treating him at the hospital want to do a brain stem test to assess whether he is brain dead before removing life support.
The family oppose the test, citing questions over its reliability after two recent cases where the test was used to wrongly declare living people as dead.
Mr Casey's mother Samantha Johnson told Sky News the test is "not 100% accurate".
She said: "If they do this test and it comes back zero activity, they can turn off the machine.... it's not a 100% accurate test so there could be a chance that my son could pull through this.
"I believe my son is fighting. He needs this chance and I'm going to fight no matter what."
The brain stem test is a clinical test carried out when there is clear evidence of serious brain damage that cannot be cured.
It consists of a series of mini tests to check the brain's automatic functions, including reaction to light in the eyes, ice-cold water in the ear and a short period off a ventilator, to see whether a patient attempts to take a breath.
Teen and baby 'wrongly declared brain dead'
In March 2021, 18-year-old Lewis Roberts was declared brain stem dead after a road accident.
But he began breathing independently hours before his organs were to be extracted for donation. He went on to make significant recovery and a year later was able to play football and basketball.
Last year, the test wrongly found a baby at a hospital in London dead before he also began breathing independently.
High Court judge Mr Justice Hayden, who was asked to decide what was in the baby's best interests, called the test "unreliable".
Before then, medical consensus had been that the brain-stem test was the gold standard. The baby's case shattered that orthodoxy and the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges pledged to update guidance around brain stem testing.
Sky News understands a team of experts there are reviewing the guidance and they are expected to report later this year.
Baroness Ilora Finlay, former president of the British Medical Association, suggested doctors could look at each case individually in the interim.
She said: "Guidelines and protocols are really helpful, they act as a checklist of a minimum thing to do - but they don't take away the importance of individual assessment."
Baroness Finlay said such cases are already complicated without uncertainty over guidelines.
She added: "These are incredibly difficult situations for all the clinical team, nurses, doctors the other staff as well as of course for the families who are distraught."
St George's Hospital has been contacted for comment.