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March 20, 2007

Texas mom fights to save her young child's life

Topics: Futile Care Laws

Hospital "ethics" committee votes that toddler does not deserve treatment, boy may die by Friday

AUSTIN, Texas -- A Texas mother is urgently battling to save her child's life after officials at the Children's Hospital of Austin deemed the toddler's life as "futile" and voted to end his treatment as of Friday, March 23, 2007. Without the treatment, the boy, named Emilio, will most likely die on Friday.

"This is a no-brainer. The Children's Hospital of Austin needs to do the right thing and focus on the getting little Emilio the treatment he needs to live," said Jerri Ward, the attorney representing the family. "Unfortunately, the Children's Hospital of Austin betrayed little Emilio when their so-called 'ethics' committee voted that his life was 'futile.' What little Emilio needs from this hospital is medical assistance from doctors, not a death sentence by amateur philosophers."

On Dec. 28, 2006, Emilio Gonzales' mother Catarina brought him to the pediatric intensive care unit at Children's Hospital of Austin. Though unsure in their diagnosis, doctors believe the boy has Leigh's Disease, a condition that is treated primarily through vitamin therapy. But on March 12, a hospital ethics committee voted behind closed doors to end Emilio's treatment, deeming his life "futile."

Under Texas law, a hospital must wait 10 days before discontinuing treatment, to allow for a transfer to another hospital willing to admit the patient. But because of hospital bureaucracy and extensive paperwork, a successful transfer may not occur in time to save Emilio's life. The Children's Hospital of Austin will cease Emilio's breathing and vitamin therapy Friday, and without the treatments, the boy will likely die in a matter of hours.

An outside nurse reviewing Emilio's records noticed that the hospital had removed the boy's vitamin treatments during the 10-day period, bringing up fears among some that the hospital could be rushing to end the toddler's life to avoid discovery of malpractice in the boy's treatment.

Ward and Carden are filing a temporary restraining order to allow Emilio to receive his treatments while his case moves forward. A copy of the order filed in the Travis County Probate Court in the case Gonzales v. Children's Hospital of Austin can be read at the links below. The password is 1Life.

"I don't know the hospital officials want to free up a hospital bed or cut costs by not administering treatment, or whether they just believe that they should be the final arbiters as to whose life is worth living, but the life of a child far outweighs such concerns," said Ward. "Whatever the reasons for the hospital officials' mad dash to end this child's life, little Emilio should not be subject to 'death by vote.'"

Here are the links:

1. TRO - Emilio Gonzales.pdf

2. TRO Brief - Affidavit of Catarina Gonzales.pdf

3. TRO Brief - Affidavit of Nick Dupree.pdf

4. TRO Brief - Affidavit of Stephanie Klick.pdf

5. TRO Brief - Thiamine Derivatives.pdf

6. TRO Brief.pdf

Source: Press release, Attorneys Jerri Ward and Joshua Carden

A press conference will be held Tuesday at the Travis County Courthouse:

WHO: Attorneys Jerri Ward and Joshua Carden
WHAT: Press conference for "Little Emilio" Gonzales, subject to "death by vote" at Children's Hospital of Austin
WHEN: Tuesday, March 20, at 10 a.m. CDT
WHERE: Courtyard on the west side of Travis County Courthouse, 1000 Guadalupe, Austin

Cross-posted from prolifeblogs.com

Posted by tim at March 20, 2007 9:09 AM


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