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C2D2-funded researcher Professor Celia Kitzinger takes part in Radio 4 programme

Posted on 4 August 2016

Professor Kitzinger was one of the experts interviewed for the first episode of a new series of Radio 4's 'Inside the Ethics Committee' entitled 'Permanent Vegetative State: Withdrawing Nutrition and Hydration' and chaired by Joan Bakewell

The programme focuses on the case of a young man, Ben, who is critically injured in a road traffic accident and is left in a coma. He emerges from a coma into a vegetative state which after a year is deemed to be permanent. The programme explores whether with no prospect of recovery, it is ethical to withdraw the nutrition and hydration that is keeping him alive and draws on the research and personal experience of Professor Kitzinger.

Professor Kitzinger is co-Director of the Coma and Disorders of Consciousness Research Centre ( which is a multi-disciplinary group of researchers across the Universities of York and Cardiff exploring the cultural, ethical, legal and social dimensions of coma, the vegetative state and the minimally conscious state.

C2D2 funding helped to support an initial interview study of more than 50 people with relatives in prolonged disorders of consciousness. These interviews formed the basis for an online resource launched in 2014, as part of the website, to provide support and information for families, health professionals, case workers, lawyers and others involved in work with this group of patients. The resource was awarded joint first prize from the ESRC for 2015 ‘Outstanding Impact in Society’ and first prize for "Information on Ethical Issues" at the 2015 BMA Patient Information Awards.

C2D2 has also sponsored a number of public engagement activities including the creation of several sonnets about coma, a piece of death metal music and a short film about the research at York.

An ESRC Impact Accelerator Award is currently funding a working party, chaired by Professor Celia Kitzingero, composed of 17 experts in prolonged disorders of consciousness (including Consultant in Neuro-Rehabilitation Professor Lynne Turner-Stokes and barrister Victoria Butler-Cole) to advise the Court of Protection Rules Committee about how to improve the procedure for court applications for withdrawing nutrition and hydration from patients in prolonged disorders of consciousness.

The radio programme is available on the Radio 4 I-player and will be broadcast again on Saturday 6th August at 10.15pm.

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