Video shows brain-injured Frenchman, condemned to starvation death, responding “very strongly” to court verdict

By Dave Andrusko

Vincent Lambert

Vincent Lambert

Yesterday NRL News Today reported on the case of Vincent Lambert, a 38-year-old Frenchmen who was severely brain injured in a 2008 motorcycle accident. The European Court of Human Rights had ruled that food and water can be withdrawn from Lambert but his parents vowed not to give in.

According to the publication, thelocal.fr (a French newspaper printed in English), “Some of his friends and family who are against taking the man off life support uploaded a video to YouTube on Wednesday that they claim shows Lambert responding to them.” You can watch the video here.

The parallels to the case of Terri Schindler Schiavo, in some respects, are uncanny, beginning with a divided family.

As we noted yesterday, a multiplicity of descriptive labels are used as if they all mean the same thing; they don’t. For instance, in today’s thelocal.fr story, the headline talks about a “brain-damaged Frenchman” while Eric Kariger, the doctor who made the initial request in January 2014 to stop Lambert’s food and fluids, (and who dismissed the video as “manipulative” ) insisted that Lambert is “in a serious and irreversible vegetative state.” The caption on the photo describes Lambert as being in a “paraplegic state.”

According to the story

In the video, Emmanuel Guépin, one of Lambert’s friends, speaks of how the patient is “responding” to his surroundings. Lambert’s mother is heard on the phone telling him “the news is not good”, referring to the ruling from the European court.

Guépin notes later that Lambert “reacts very strongly” to his brother with facial expressions.

In 2014 the legal tug of war began when six of Lambert’s siblings and his wife, Rachel, backed a doctor’s request to withdraw food and fluid, appealing to France’s 2005 “passive euthanasia law” for authority to do so,

But as NRL News Today reported last year, Lambert’s parents, half-brother and sister appealed the court decision authorizing the withdrawal.

The French supreme administrative court, known as the State Council, “ordered three doctors to draw up a report on Lambert’s condition and in June ruled that the decision to withdraw care from a man with no hope of recovery was lawful,” according to reporter Henry Samuel.

Lambert’s parents then took the case to the Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), which ordered France to keep Lambert alive while they deliberated on whether the State Council’s decision was in line with the European Convention on Human Rights.

Kariger told France Info: “This is a small step for Vincent Lambert and his wife, but probably a giant step for our humanity.”

The parents vehemently disagreed. “It’s scandalous,” said his mother Viviane following the ruling. “They are condemning my son. We will remain by Vincent’s side and will continue to fight.”

Among other points Lamberts’ parents will raise is that Kariger has left the Reims university hospital where there son is being treated, Samuel reported.

And, as is also so often the case, Kariger made his recommendation “after Lambert appeared to resist attempts to be fed, suggesting he wished to die.”

Lambert now appears to be upset by attempts to starve and dehydrate him to death.