Archive for Tuesday, May 16, 2006

KU Med trying to remove boy declared brain-dead from life support

Family fighting hospital with restraining order

May 16, 2006


University of Kansas Hospital leaders are scrambling this afternoon to try to arrange a hearing on a family's restraining order that prohibits them from taking a brain-dead boy off life support.

The family of 14-year-old shooting victim Michael Todd received a temporary restraining order Friday in Wyandotte County. Last week the hospital's staff declared Michael brain dead- which means legally dead under Kansas law - but family members say he's been responding to their touch and has tried to open one eye.

The parties had planned to meet this morning to schedule a hearing on whether the restraining order should be made permanent. But the judge they were going to see called in sick, KU Med spokesman Dennis McCullough said.

A hearing could happen as soon as Wednesday if the parties are able to find a judge whose schedule can accommodate the case.

"We want the child to be declared dead to confirm our diagnosis," McCullough said this afternoon. "We're asking the judge to declare that the declaration of death is the official status of the victim"

Under state law, someone who has sustained "irreversible cessation of all functions of the entire brain, including the brain stem," is dead.

Michael was shot May 9 at a Blue Springs, Mo. apartment in what a witness told police could have been an accidental shooting. Hospital doctors, including a pediatric neurologist, an intensive-care specialist and a neurosurgeon, determined last Wednesday that the boy is brain dead.

But the boy's mother, Cecelia B. Cole says her son has responded to touch, shed tears, tried to open his right eye and tried to grip the hands of those holding his hands.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


gerbilsniper 12 years ago

Let the pro-life Schiavo supporters come out of the woodwork. Let's see....who knows if someone is dead or not...the Physicians with years of education?...or parents trying to desperatly hold on to something that is already gone.

Let the boy die with some dignity please....pull the plug

Centrist 12 years ago

Is it just me, or are the KU Med people a little too eager to declare this lad as dead? Surely some movement means L.I.F.E ... makes you wonder why an institution dedicated to saving lives is rushing to end one !!

As far as I'm concerned, it's up to the family, not the "professionals" ...

leavemealone 12 years ago

From what I saw from the tv, mom seems more concerned with tv time than with her child. I saw no emotion or sadness that her child was hurt(or brain dead).

OldEnuf2BYurDad 12 years ago

I'm very pro-life... but this kid is dead. No brain stem function. Let nature take it's course and allow him to die.

A venus flytrap responds to touch. I believe that God calls him dead. I even believe that he's already WITH God. Have closure, and let him die.

I cannot imagine having to make the decision they are making, but at the same time, isn't it a little morbid to keep someone artificially animated?

No, I'm not saying the decision would be easy. I do not wish this upon anyone.

compmd 12 years ago

if the family has the money to pay for it, let him stay on life support forever or get whatever treatment they want wherever. they can spend their money however they choose.

I'm getting a "terri schiavo part deux" feeling with the unique twist of kansas though.

I wish the boy and his family the best in these difficult times.

lets see what happens.

OldEnuf2BYurDad 12 years ago

It only took 4 posts before someone wrote something completely inappropriate.

Leave M. Alone: how many children have died in your family? How can you (or anyone else) suppose to know exactly how she "should" react? She's in SHOCK!

Patti Hadl 12 years ago

Having any of you ever had a family member diagnosed as brain dead? I have. And the comments you make about the family, the trained medical staff and the judge are so insensative and ridiculous. This is not a public matter and what you or I or anyone else post on this message board, does not make any difference to the pain and suffering everyone closely involved are dealing with. You people need to get a life and offer comments that are helpful.

OldEnuf2BYurDad 12 years ago


Keep in mind, most of what is being stated here is in the context of "ethics" not about these specific people. It's a discussion on the general topic more than anything else. Anyone attacking the parents of this child needs a good slap. I hope my comments weren't too direct.

Steve Jacob 12 years ago

The shooting was ONLY on May 9th. I say you have to give more time for the family to let go.

assistant1234 12 years ago

I don't understand how a group of people can usurp the authority of a patient or their family member. This decision should be up to the family. How is this even legal, that courts and hospital boards get to make these decisions? At least in the Schiavo case it was a "husband" (if you can call him that) and parents fighting. The boys family wants him to keep recieving life support - end of discussion. This goes beyond pro-life/pro-choice. Very very frightening.

OldEnuf2BYurDad 12 years ago

Sr. J makes a good point. Yes, the bills are stacking up, but it seems that giving them a few days to find closure makes sense. A week ago, he was going to school like any other kid his age.

mom_of_three 12 years ago

My stepbrother was on life support. He was only kept alive to do some tests (which was easier than an autopsy) and then life support would be removed. His organs failed before the tests could be done, and he died while on life support. My stepfather was devastated. Maybe the mother isn't publicly grieving because she believes her son to be alive.
I would hope a 2nd or 3rd opinion has been had.

adky 12 years ago

Only God can take a life! Medics should stay out of it. Soon I will be euthanized for having no quality of life because of my bad back....

Katie Van Blaricum 12 years ago

I still want to know how it's not up to the legal guardians to decide this matter. If they are paying the hospital, what is their problem with keeping him on life support???

egypt 12 years ago

I think it should be up to the parents, obviously they have just lost a child and are in shock and denile, and in this situation most people pray for any sign of life and may even beleive that they see him move, or feel him move just because they are wishing so hard for any signs of life. The boy may be dead, and probably is dead, but to that mother he is still alive and will come back to life , because no mother should see there child die.

staff04 12 years ago

adky- God did take it. The medics and the life support gave him a few extra days.

Looks like it is time to dust off the old advance directive that I had drafted when the Schiavo circus came to town...

OldEnuf2BYurDad 12 years ago


If only God can give and take life, then how do we resolve the fact that this boy is only "alive" by purely artificial means? It's like paying someone to perform CPR day and night just for the purpose of being able to say that he hasn't flatlined. His "life" is not from God. It is of man, and therefore is outside of what God intended us to experience. God created nature. This is unnatural. This is not even a pro-life argument: this life is already gone, but being kept animated by machines.

fletch 12 years ago

so are we taking bets yet on how long this takes to appear on Drudge Report?

RTN1WG 12 years ago

I've never been in this situation so have no way of knowing the right or wrong thing to do. I pray for the parents as I know they are having a very hard time.

KansasKel 12 years ago

This is only my personal opinion, but the feeling I got watching the story this morning is that KU wants to pull the plug because there's no $$ involved for them. I bet if he had good insurance coverage they probably wouldn't care how long the family wanted to keep him alive. I don't understand why KU Med is so hasty to take him off life support when the family doesn't want to - and since when is it the hospital's decision???

Seems to me this is really about money to KU Med and that's VERY disturbing to me!

My sympathies to the family, as this is a terrible tragedy.

fletch 12 years ago

KansasKel, KU Med is non-profit, so I'm doubtful its an issue of money (in fact, keeping him on life support longer would mean more bills for the family and money going towards KU Med). It's been a week since he was pronounced brain dead, so I'm not of the particular notion that this has been rushed. I think the Med Center's standpoint is that they are at the end of care that they can provide to him. They're a working medical center and need the bed for new patients where they are actually capable of doing some good. At the end of the day, if they want to keep their son mechanicaly alive, they should probably arrange hospice care on their own instead of relying on the hospital.

But I agree, this is a horrible tragedy for the family. I honsetly hope they can get through this. Nobody should have to deal with the death of their child. I hope this is resolved before the talking heads in the media begin to exploit their pain and suffering.

hawkeyes 12 years ago

Since when do hospitals stop treating people because of the cost? The fact that so many conclusions are being drawn is disturbing.

Perhaps there are more ethical than financial reasons behind this?

badger 12 years ago

Ethically: If he's been declared brain dead, remove him from life support and let him die.

Medically: The docs are the best ones to determine whether he's brain dead or not. People can have all sorts of responses to stimulus, based in reflex and brain stem reactions, even after the frontal lobe is nonfunctional.

Legally: I would want my family to be the ones who decided when to let me go, based on the advice of doctors but not bound by them. I would want the same for this boy and his family. I would hope they could let him die with dignity, but I don't know as I'm happy to contemplate them being legally forced to do so.

Them's my opinions, and they come with a big dose of sympathy for the family involved.

yourworstnightmare 12 years ago

I think oldenuf is right on this one. The kid is gone and is being kept alive like a frog leg in science class. This is not living. Doctors have diagnosed seveere brain damage, so there is no chance of recovery.

xenophonschild 12 years ago

A tragedy. The boy is dead; he should be buried. The parents are only creating more grief for themselves.

b_asinbeer 12 years ago

I don't know any of the circumstances...I have not seen the medical chart...I have not been the nurse of the little boy...I am not in charge of the medications...I am not a neurologist...I am not God...just like the rest of the ljworld readers. So, stop jumping to conclusions..."I think he should be burried...I think he should be kept on life-support...etc."

99.9% of the doctors want to do what's best for the patient and his/her family. I am sure that the doctors would have consulted with the family if they did, or had they been able to. Miracles do happen, but whether or not it will happen, it's not up for us to decide.

coffeejunkie 12 years ago

I don't think that the issue for KUMed is a money issue and some examples of reasons have already been listed. One thing I have not seen anybody discuss is that (from what I understand) the family requested the child be transferred to Children's Mercy and KUMed made every attempt to find a physician to transfer his care to but was unable to. That should speak to any question of a 2nd, 3rd, 4th... etc. opinion, or any question of the competency of the hospital physicians (not that there should be any).

noodle 12 years ago

If it were my child and I thought they were trying to respond, I would do anything possible to keep him on life support. If that means speaking to the media to get them behind the cause than I think that is what I would have to do. I will be praying for this family.

southerngirl 12 years ago

On the other hand, the longer he is on life support the less viable his organs are for donation. My step-brother too was on life support due to an accident and we had just 24 hours to say goodbye. He lives on through his donation.

bruhahax 12 years ago

KU Med is not non-profit. While the hospital is a teaching facility, they have a much more loose affiliation with the Medical Center than one would think. Back in the late 1990s, they stopped taking state funding and become an independent entity. They have a CEO who is entirely separate from the University. The stakes are money, which is too bad for everybody.

Just as a note. KU Med does not take uninsured patients unless they present life-threatening injuries; they shuffle the uninsured poor over to Truman Medical Center to save costs. I'm not kidding, it's pathetic.

hawkeyes 12 years ago

Bruhahax, Where did you get your info that KU Med does not accept the uninsured? I know for a fact that this is not true...this hospital accepts care of more private pay patients than you would think...I was one of them six years ago and received the best care than I have ever received. It was NOT for a medical emergency...just a simple clinic visit.

As for organ donations...the patient's family has not said whether they approve or disapprove the use of his organs for donation. They are making the hospital look like they are waiting in the wings for a liver, but don't acknowledge whether they chose to donate or not. I seriously sympathize with this family, and hope that they will someday see that if you get a room full of doctors to agree on something, it is usually for the greater good. When have you seen several doctors agree on anything?

bruhahax 12 years ago


1) Private pay is different than uninsured poor (think business here). If you can prove that you can pay, then they are happy to take your money. My statement is in reference to uninsured poor --those who cannot pay.

2) What's your fact had money to pay six years ago, therefore my statement is false?

I guess I could have reworded it to say that "those who cannot pay will are not admitted unless they are presenting life-threatening injuries." I thought the words uninsured poor were a giveway.

hawkbygod 12 years ago

From KU med's standpoint I don't think this is about money. Right or wrong, it comes down to procedure. Three trained professionals seperately diagnosed this boy as brain dead. The State of Kansas decided that brain dead is the same thing as "all" dead. A hospital that deals with this situation on a regular basis needs to have procedures in place so that all decisions are made based on objective criteria. As soon as things become subjective, or get decided on a case by case basis problems occur.

That being said, My prayers go out to the family. I can not imagine what they are going through. However, I believe that the mother is going through the grievance process like anyone else would, but I think having her son on life support is preventing her from moving past the denial stage.

jayhawktownie 12 years ago

hawkbygod- i agree with your comment regarding the subjectiveness of the situation. if kansas law states that brain dead is dead. why is it not standard procedure to treat it as a death as soon as that determination is made? sure you would want to make sure the diagnosis is correct and consult with multiple doctors but it seems as though the message to the family should be clear cut on the side of death.

Cait McKnelly 12 years ago

This child has met the legal definition of death in this state. There is no life left. This is very different from the Terry Schiavo case. In fact it should not be a "right to life" case as there IS no life, but a "right to die" case. I seriously feel for the parents but there is no miracle forthcoming here. When a brain flatlines it stays that way. It's not a heart that can be jump started. The doctors would not be seeking this if there was even the slightest bit of brain activity left and the parents wished to keep him on life support. The truth is this poor child is a well oxygenated corpse. My heart goes out to his mom and dad and I hope they find the peace they need to let him go..

Linda Endicott 12 years ago

Remember when there was so much disapproval from the American public when they tried to create a new law, specifically for the Schiavo case? Everyone said that the government should keep their nose out of it, and that it was up to the family to make the decision.

Same goes here. Doesn't matter whether he's brain-dead or not. It should still be the family's decision. What business does the hospital have taking these poor, hurting parents to court? How heartless is that?

If something happened suddenly to you, and you found yourself in the same situation, would you want the hospital to decide when to unplug you, or your family?

As for Solomon: "if society is paying the bill, then society should have the right to make the decision"...

Really? Since when did being poor mean you automatically lose all your rights as a citizen of the United States of America? Freedom is only for the financially self-sufficient? What a concept...

Linda Endicott 12 years ago

Doesn't matter. It still should be the decision of the family. It's nobody else's business.

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