The condition of Vincent Lambert, lying on a hospital bed since a car accident in 2008, does not improve since experts confirm his "irreversible chronic vegetative state". A conclusion that could change the situation in the legal battle his family is going through for a possible stop or maintenance.
Three experts, appointed by the court, have delivered a much anticipated report on the situation of Vincent Lambert. They confirmed his "irreversible chronic vegetative state" that leaves him no longer "possible access to consciousness". "Vincent Lambert is in a state of total psychomotor functional incapacity", the experts explained, adding that "minimal elements of aggravation have been recorded".
This conclusion was eagerly awaited since it was a prerequisite prior to the eventual triggering of a procedure for stopping care, requested since 9th April by the Reims University Hospital where the patient is hospitalized. The last official expertise was in 2014 and the experts estimated that Vincent Lambert's condition "in 2018 is clinically comparable to that recorded in 2014".
A state that forbids "any quality of life"
Experts say that his "situation of total functional impotence due to irreversible encephalic lesions" prohibits him "any quality of life" and makes "no more possible access to consciousness". They add that "the extreme or total limitation of his ability to access consciousness, communication, motor skills, expression of his personality, the irreversible alteration of his image undermine him to a point that is not acceptable by himself and his wife and guardian ".
Rachel Lambert, his wife, is fighting to enforce the wishes of her husband who, according to her, would not have wanted a relentless treatment. Unfortunately for her, he did not formulate this will in writing. Given the family discord, it is now for justice to decide from this new expertise.
Some nuanced conclusions
But the experts are more nuanced on certain points. They believe that "primary basic needs are not the result of therapeutic unrest or unreasonable obstinacy". They plead for a transfer to a structure "that can accommodate it until its disappearance if the maintenance at the University Hospital of Reims proved impossible for reasons other than the simple medical technique".
A position that joins that of his parents, Catholics close to fundamentalist circles, and part of his siblings, who had asked for this expertise and consider that Vincent is "handicapped" but has made "progress". "We join the opinion of experts about the need to finally transfer Vincent to a specialized institution" so he has "access to the best care," said Jean Paillot, one of the lawyers of the patient's parents. However, this petition has already been rejected by the courts.
A symbol of the end of life debate
Following a car accident in 2008, Vincent Lambert was placed in a minimal state of consciousness. In 2013, after five years of unsuccessful attempts to improve her condition, the medical team decided to stop feeding and hydrating her. Problem, if she informed his wife, she did not ask the opinion of her parents and siblings. The University Hospital of Reims then canceled this decision.
Since then, the legal battle around Vincent Lambert has become the symbol of the debate on the end of life. While ongoing legal remedies prevent final decision-making, the European Court of Human Rights rendered a decision in 2015 validating the procedure for stopping treatment. This new report could pave the way for a new judicial era whose outcome still seems uncertain.