Skip to comments.Judge rules boy's life support can be switched off despite parents' hope of miracle
Posted on 08/13/2012 3:43:08 AM PDT by markomalley
A judge has ordered that doctors can switch off a young boys life-support system even though his devout Christian parents pleaded for him to be kept alive in case of a miracle.
Mr Justice Ryder said there was no hope of the eight-year-old recovering from lung failure after a tragic decline in health and it would be wrong to keep him alive and possibly in pain on a machine.
He paid tribute to the boys parents and teenage sister, who told the High Court that they believed he was still conscious and that there was still a chance of divine intervention saving him.
But the judge said that with a heavy heart he had to agree to the hospitals request to withdraw life-sustaining treatment as doctors and nurses agreed that all further interventions would be futile.
(Excerpt) Read more at telegraph.co.uk ...
That might have been the reasonable compromise, but as you stated and as I read in the posted article along with others, the child has shown no improvement, his heart and lungs are not functioning, his airways continued to be blocked and his condition was and is worsening not improving.
In some cases there comes a point in time when further extraordinary life support measures are simply futile continuing the use of the ECMO machine might extend his physical life a few weeks or even months but eventually he will die with or without the life support; infections, bleeds and ultimately brain damage are all very real and not at all uncommon complications with extended use of ECMO. Keeping him "alive" only to face those further complications, some of which would be excruciatingly painful would IMO be cruel given the sad fact that his condition is going to be ultimately fatal no matter what is done.
That is the sad and heartbreaking reality. And while I empathize and sympathize with the parents, it seems to me that they are not accepting that reality. I cant say that I blame them for not giving up hope, but on one hand they seem to acknowledge that there is nothing more that can be done for him medically except for keeping him alive by artificial means while they wait for a divine miracle, but on the other hand, since no miracle has yet taken place, they seem to be no more willing to accept Gods decision not to, by miracle, cure their child than they are those of the doctors who are telling them that despite all their best efforts and extraordinary measure, that their child is dying.
I would also suppose that hospitals do not have unlimited numbers of such machines or unlimited numbers of the highly trained people necessary to run them. Beyond the questions of cost and who is footing the bill, the issue may also be one of continued use of such a machine in a hopeless and ultimately terminal case may mean that someone with a better outcome does not have access to it.
I would ask the parents if they are comfortable knowing that another patient, perhaps a child on the waiting list for a heart-lung transplant with a very real chance of recovery, doesnt have access to the machine that is keeping their child alive, but only for a few more weeks while they wait for a miracle that doesnt appear is going to happen. I would also add that if their faith in God is so strong, that He could perform such a miracle even after life support is removed.
We pray for healing miracles because we want God to operate on our time table, not his.
Medical science and the technology of advanced life support have progressed to the point where many people who were once hopeless and terminal can be saved. But as far as the advancement in medicine has progressed, the reality is that not everyone can be saved. Thats not a failure of medical science; that is just the reality.
Yes but you must understand that if they had left him on the machine, there would be victory rejoicing on Free Republic and glorying in the remembrance of the Free Republic Terry threads.
Given the circumstances I've had to go through the last week, I think I'm uniquely qualified to speak to this specific point.
My first brother who is 7 years younger than I suffered a massive brain aneurysm last Friday, August 10th. When the Paramedics arrived, he was not breathing and barely had a pulse. Somehow - miraculously - they managed to revive him and get him to the hospital.
The first hospital they took him to had no trauma facilities, so he was taken to a second hospital which had them. The second miracle was that he survived the trip(s) to the two hospitals.
By the time I arrived at the second hospital, approximately 90 minutes after his aneurysm he'd already received a second cat scan and two neurologists on duty read both of them.
My brother was literally dead by the time he hit the floor in his home. Both neurologists told us it was a miracle he was able to be revived at all. His aneurysm was in the worst place possible, deep inside his brain stem, where it meets the brain. Inoperable. By 4 pm last Friday afternoon we were given the news he would not survive, the aneurysm was still bleeding and choking off the blood supply to his brain.
As I, my sister and my youngest brother spoke with the doctors, they were very clear in telling us that very few survived his type of aneurysm, and what they expected would happen overnight to him as his brain's blood supply was choked off and eventually stopped.
I was with my brother when his reflexes shut down, and he stopped breathing on his own. All testing the doctors did showed that his brain had stopped functioning, and the only thing keeping him "going" was the ventilator and the drugs they used to keep his heart going.
He was no longer able to sustain himself in any way. His body temperature dropped on its own and the time came when the doctor's declared him deceased. The doctors did everything they could to save him, of that I'm convinced because I was there.
My brother was laid to rest on Thursday.
Now how is this relevant to this specific case? Simple. If the boy's heart is beating on it's own with no medical assistance and his reflexes are still functioning (ie: prick his hand with a needle and he reflexes on his own) then he is still alive and there is still hope.
If the doctors in this case were to prove death, there are a series of tests that are performed three times, six hours apart over a twenty-four hour period that confirm death. I've seen doctors perform these tests. If they haven't been performed on this young boy then they need to be to confirm whether he is alive and still "in there" or if he's dead. Any positive response to those tests would indicate hope for this young boy.
God bless these parents, please keep them and their son from all harm Lord, and above all else, Your will, Your way, Your time.
If that's the case, then we don't really disagree at all. I was under the impression that ECMO could sustain someone for much longer than a few weeks, since I couldn't imagine why anyone (either the family or the hospital) would make a big deal about the situation if it were just a matter of weeks we're talking about.
See the detailed description laid out in Post #43. Nothing of this sort ever happened in that case.
That’s a very sobering, compelling story — with some good information that relates to this thread. Condolences to your entire family on your loss.
——— Terri Schiavo was not on any form of “life support.”-——
Except a feeding tube. Her brain was dead and would not permit body functions necessary to allow her to function and therefore to live.
Agree to a point. However, even in the freest of markets, situations can and do arise where money isn’t the only determinate. My mother had a surgery rescheduled at the very last minute after she’d already been sedated (but not anesthetized) in pro-op. The surgery itself was needed for a more emergent operation.
Even a large hospital isn’t likely to have more than one or possibly two available ecmo machines. What do you do when your futile case doesn’t want to let the machine go, when it could potentially help actually save a life?
While I do sympathize with families, I’m more inclined to trust in the physician to make these determinations. I’ve been there myself. My father survived a week after a cerebral hemorrhage. Every day I thought I saw progress and genuinly believed he was coming back. However, in retrospect after 15 years have passed, I realize that I saw what I wanted to see. Family members are probably the worst determiners in end of life situations.
I do agree with you. Keeping him on the machine is akin to saying that God just needs more time. It just doesn’t work that way.
I just addressed your concerns about the limited number of machines in another post btw.
You convinced the judges that it should be ok to let the doctors help you kill your child while it was still inside your body.
Now you find it offensive that they say your doctors can kill your child for his own (the greater) good?
That slope was slippery from the first step!
That’s eerily similar to my father’s passing, right down to the two hospitals.
That said, in the real world, you don’t have to be dead for death to be a certainty. You can be alive and “in there” as you put it, and well on your way to meet your maker. This boy might be “in there” but there is absolutely no way at this point that his lungs are ever going to regain function, and no way that prolonged ECMO isn’t going to kill him. It’s the proverbial being trapped under a car, with only the weight of the car keeping severed major arteries closed.
After conferring with my wife this morning, the more I think this is the abuse of a technology. ECMO is only supposed to be used for brief periods of time to give the heart and/or lungs a chance to heal. If there are no improvements in a very short period of time, it’s just a torture device that’s going to kill the patient, and soon.
At first I thought maybe this boy was brain dead, but after reading the whole article, that isn’t the case.
It’s one thing to declare brain death - entirely another thing to predict someone’s demise before they actually get there.
Terri was not brain dead - had she been, there never would have been a controversy and no one would have heard of her.
I am sorry for your loss.
Our experience with our daughter was similar.
My question relates to the word and concept of “intervention.” What has been done to date has been an ‘intervention,’ i.e., using technology to thwart what would have been the child’s natural death. That technology has apparently not worked. So how is terminating use of that failed technology considered “ordering [the child’s] death?”
As parents, yes, we would move heaven and earth to save our child’s life. Been there and done that. But when use of the best technology available is not working, and there is little to no hope of its ever working, I don’t think cessation of its use is “ordering the patient’s death.” It’s ceasing a futile effort to forestall the patient’s natural death.
And when the car, home and everything inside has been sold, savings account depleted, retirement funds drained and the last losing Powerball ticket has been purchased, then what? At some point the money will run out.
Your thoughts are sick. Your utilitarian view of human life is warped & not in-line with conservative values.
And these types of threads always bring out a certain element who believe it is every hospital's duty to provide free of charge expensive, limited in number life-supporting equipment and the trained staff to operate them to every last patient who needs it for as long as it takes for God to work miracles and anyone who disagrees is somehow "sick" and "not conservative."
It doesn't work that way.
It would be different with a private insurance company?
The poor boy has been on the Ecmo machine for a month. There has been no improvement, there is no hope of improvement and the doctors have had to sedate him more and more heavily to prevent discomfort. The mother does not dispute the conclusions of the medical team, but is holding out hope for a miracle. So how long to you wait for the miracle. How much suffering to you put the boy through while you're hoping for divine intervention?
Just because we can hook people up to machines and keep them 'alive' for years doesn't mean we should. The time comes when it's best for all to let God or nature or whatever explanation you want take its course.
If she could breathe on her own and her heart could beat on its own, then her brain was most certainly not "dead" by any medical definition. If her brain were "dead" then her bodily functions would shut down and she would die of whatever injury or malady caused her condition. Since her bodily functions did not shut down, she didn't die of whatever injury or malady caused her condition. Her cause of death was starvation and/or dehydration.
Frustrating, isn’t it?
Had Terri been brain dead, the doctors would have declared her so many years prior.
She wasn’t even on a ventilator, so they could’t even “remove her from life support” -like they do when someone truly is brain dead.
People always like to compare apples to oranges when it comes to this topic.
Brain trauma - minimal consciousness - coma does not equal brain death.
No one is advocating endless futile care at any expense. Stop trying to cloud the issue. The issue here is the government ordering the termination of medical care.