Its a piece of political conventional wisdom thats been repeated many times: The cover-up is usually worse than the crime. A series of votes by Barack Obama in the Illinois Senate, however, turns that famous statement on its head. As a state legislator, Obama spoke out against, and voted down, a bill that would have explicitly extended legal protections to born-alive premature infants. In other words, he cast a vote against banning infanticide. Making matters worse if such a thing is possible the explanation Obama has peddled over the years to justify his vote has recently been exposed as untrue.
Average Americans, many of whom hold complicated views on the issue of abortion, may wonder why such a bill would even be necessary in the first place. Once a child is born, she becomes an independent human being who's entitled to the same rights and legal protections afforded to all citizens, right? Wrong, said State Senator Obama. Earlier this decade, the Born Alive Infant Protection Act was introduced in the Illinois state legislature after a Chicago area nurse named Jill Stanek blew the whistle on a practice she personally witnessed at her hospital. Babies who managed to survive late term abortions were being abandoned in soiled linen closets and left to die.....
The hardest decision Lori and Jon Driscoll made was to remove life support from their terminally ill newborn son.
The next decision, they say, was the easiest. Liam's heart would be removed and donated to an infant girl.
"There was no doubt in our minds whatsoever," 36-year-old Lori Driscoll said. "It's the ultimate opportunity to give life."
There is doubt in the minds of some ethicists and doctors that the transplant procedures used at Children's Hospital for Liam and two other sets of children between 2004 and 2007 satisfied legal and ethical requirements.
The hearts of three severely brain- damaged newborns were removed soon after they first stopped beating, in just over a minute in two of the cases. The widely accepted protocol is five minutes. The Children's Hospital team was studying whether saving these minutes would improve the chances for organ recipients.
The hearts were immediately transplanted into three infants whose brains were healthy but whose hearts were not. The three are all alive and thriving.
Yet critics ask whether those once-still hearts, so quickly restarted in these other children, had really met the legal definition of irreversible cardiac death.
"We don't take organs from the near-dead to save other lives," said Robert Veatch, a Georgetown University bioethicist critical of the procedures.
Belief in hospital's actions
At least two families believe in what Children's Hospital did.
Liam Driscoll was born March 28, 2007, in Colorado Springs to parents expecting a completely normal birth. About the time his head was crowning, the doctor learned the oxygen supply through Liam's umbilical cord had been cut off. A doctor performed an emergency cesarean section to deliver him.
Liam's heart wasn't beating.
"They went through extraordinary measures to resuscitate him. And they did resuscitate him — after 19 minutes," Lori Driscoll said.
Medical personnel rushed Liam to Children's Hospital, where doctors used cutting-edge treatments to try to heal the devastating damage to Liam's oxygen-starved brain. They couldn't.
Jon and Lori spun out the rest of their lives in their minds. They planned how to care for a son with severe cerebral palsy. Jon, now 35, would quit his job so he could stay home with Liam. They would get a smaller house.
Even this downsized dream would vanish.
"He never opened his eyes. He never cried," Jon Driscoll said of his only son. "He never moved except during seizures. He couldn't breathe on his own. I still can't get my head around what happened to my son."
The Driscolls told doctors to remove Liam's life support.
"There was never any hope he could sustain his life on his own," Lori Driscoll said.
Liam and his parents spent the last night of his life together in the hospital. Some apparatus had been removed from their son so they could touch and hold him for the first time.
"We said goodbye," Lori Driscoll said. "It's the hardest thing we've ever done."
Liam's lifetime was seven days. It ended April 3, 2007.
"Liam was a beautiful little boy," his mother said. "He was active inside me. He moved around a lot. He kicked Jon in the ear once when he was listening to him."
"It was a good kick," Jon said.
"He looked like Jon," Lori said, "except he had my ears that stick out. He had what we call fancy hair, reddish blond.
"He was, and is, everything to us."
Dr. Biagio "Bill" Pietra, head of Children's transplant team, said he is stunned by what he calls the knee-jerk reaction of some ethicists critical of the protocols used in the three transplant cases.
"We felt unequivocally that the donors were dead before we removed their hearts," Pietra said.
Veatch, the Georgetown bioethicist, said the team compromised the dead-donor rule, which requires that a donor's heart, brain or respiratory function must irreversibly cease before any donor organs are harvested.
"They said cardiac function was irreversibly lost and then reversed it," Veatch said of Children's doctors.
Pietra said other teams of physicians cared for these infants and determined they were terminal patients.
"An individual isn't going to survive just because he or she has a good heart," Pietra said.
They had brain damage, he said. Life support was withdrawn. The infants stopped breathing. Their hearts eventually stopped.
Pietra said that brain death is difficult to determine in infants because the neurological tests for it were developed for mature brains. Delays could make a significant difference in organ health and the recipient's outcome, Pietra said.
On April 3, 2007, Annika Pruet received Liam's heart. She was 4 months, 3 days old.
"It helps us a lot"
"When our pager beeped — the first time we ever heard it — our hearts stopped," said her mother, Cam Pruet, 20, of Billings, Mont., recalling the day she was notified of a donor.
Annika, who was near death because her heart was too weak to move oxygen throughout her body, is now a skinny little dynamo who never stops moving.
Three months after Annika received Liam's heart, the Pruets received a letter from the Driscolls.
"They wanted to know about Annika and how she was doing," Cam Pruet said. "I cried. I can never thank them enough."
The families met for the first time in May in Denver.
"There was a little crying at first, but it was very comfortable," Cam Pruet said. "It was like we'd known them our whole lives."
Annika's life comforts the Driscolls.
"It helps us a lot," Lori Driscoll said. "The message we have is that people need to open their hearts and minds to what the gift of organ donation means."
Electa Draper: 303-954-1276 or firstname.lastname@example.org
What a pretty woman and a sad story