Dr. Lionel Dibden, acting chair of the Dept. of Pediactrics at the Stollery Children's Hospital speaks at a news conference
Credits: FILE PHOTO
However, the decision was stayed a few hours later by an appeal judge who said an expedited appeal in the case would be heard next week.
After calling it a "difficult situation" in which "there is no ideal solution," Justice Jean Cote granted the stay on the basis the ruling was a "life and death" decision.
Lawyers for the parents had argued that the removal of life support would lead to the child's death and therefore make any appeal moot.
If the child dies, the parents could be charged with murder.
Judge June Ross issued the earlier decision after ruling that she had the jurisdiction to determine the best interests of the two-year-old girl.
"I conclude and direct that the recommendations of (the child's) medical team that she be withdrawn from life-sustaining treatment and be placed on palliative care is in (the child's) best interests and this course of action should be followed," Ross said.
Immediately after the ruling, the parents' lawyers sought a stay, but Ross directed them to apply to the Court of Appeal of Alberta.
The case landed in civil court last week as a result of an application from the director of Child and Family Services.
Medical experts testified the girl is paralyzed and in a "persistent vegetative state" and is not likely to ever regain consciousness or make a substantial recovery from her "very severe" neurological problems.
Lawyers for the parents had argued the judge should leave it up to the couple. They said their clients are unable to give consent to withdraw life-support because of their religious convictions and love for their daughter.
According to court documents filed in the case, the medical condition of the child and her twin - who has since recovered - and the injuries they suffered contradict what the parents told officials had happened.
When paramedics first responded to the family's south-side home on May 25, they found both girls had bruising on their heads and faces and the more severely injured child had suffered cardiac arrest and needed resuscitation.
The parents said the twins were hurt when they fell down some stairs they had been playing on with their older brother three days earlier. They also maintained the girls were able to crawl and walk with assistance at the time.
But in a court report prepared by Child and Family Services caseworker Kathy Wood, pediatrician Dr. Lionel Dibden is quoted as saying the girls, due to being "profoundly malnourished," wouldn't have been independently mobile three days prior to their hospital admission.
"There is absolutely no doubt also that their dire nutritional state did not develop in a few days," he said.
The report says Dibden also stated that the bruises on the girls were "clearly due to multiple impacts" and he opined that they "cannot be explained by only one event."
Regarding the alleged malnourishment, the report says the girls' mom told officials they were born prematurely and her family has a history of twins and low weight.
However, Dibden is quoted saying no metabolic cause for their being underweight was detected and the nutritional condition of the girls was "clearly due to deprivation."
Also in the court documents is a letter from pediatric intensivist Dr. Allan de Caen in which he writes about the current condition of the girl who is on life-support.
"The unanimous opinion is that (the girl's) prognosis is dismal, and that withdrawal of life-sustaining care is in her best interests," he said.
The parents, who cannot be named under a publication ban protecting the identity of the children, are charged with aggravated assault, criminal negligence causing bodily harm and failing to provide the necessities of life.