Texas Mother Fighting Hospital Seeking to End Son’s Life-Sustaining Treatment

Hospital Hallway pdHOUSTON, Texas — A mother in Texas is fighting in court for her son’s life after the hospital where he was admitted decided that it was “medically inappropriate” to continue providing treatment to keep him alive.

Christopher Dunn, 46, has been in Houston Methodist Hospital for over two months as a mass was found where his small intestine connects to his pancreas. The non-cancerous mass is adversely affecting not only his small intestine, but also his liver and kidneys.

Dunn has been on a ventilator and is intermittently sedated, but is able to communicate with hand gestures or by moving his head.

Last month, J. Richard Cheney, the chair of the bioethics committee at Houston Methodist Hospital, sent a letter to Dunn’s parents to advise that the committee believed that life-sustaining treatment should be discontinued.

“Thank you for meeting with the committee to tell us of your hopes for Chris and your request to continue life-sustaining treatment,” the letter read. “After hearing from you and from Chris’ physicians, the committee has decided that life-sustaining treatment is medically inappropriate for Chris and that all treatments other than those needed to keep him comfortable should be discontinued and withheld.”

Evelyn Kelly, Dunn’s mother, told reporters that the hospital desires to remove her son from the ventilator and administer drugs that will result in his death.

“The hospital wants to turn Chris’ nutrients and extra air off and they are playing God. They want to kill my son. They say there is nothing else they can do for him, but I don’t believe that,” she told Breibart. “When they found out that Chris did not have insurance, they said they were done.”

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The Texas Advance Directives Act (TADA) of 1999 states that “[i]f the patient or the person responsible for the health care decisions of the patient is requesting life-sustaining treatment that the attending physician has decided and the review process has affirmed is inappropriate treatment,” the patient will be kept alive for 10 days, and on the 11th day, doctors are permitted to discontinue treatment, unless the patient is transferred to another doctor or facility.

“The physician and the health care facility are not obligated to provide life-sustaining treatment after the 10th day after the written decision,” the law outlines.

Pro-life groups have been working to have the act repealed for over the past decade out of concern that it even overrides the will of the patient to stay alive.

Dunn’s mother therefore hired attorneys to fight the hospital’s decision, and a video released on Dec. 2 shows Dunn responding by holding up his hands as if to say “pray for me.”

“Chris, we’re trying to ensure that the hospital continues giving you good care. Do you want to stay alive?” attorney Joe Nixon asks.

Dunn nods his head and puts his hands together in prayer.

“We’re going to pray for you, too,” Nixon says.

A court has thus far granted two injunctions that have temporarily stopped the hospital from discontinuing treatment, but concerns still remain over his care.

“This is bigger than Chris, and if other people don’t think that this can happen to your son or daughter, then it sure can,” Kelly stated. “If they can do it to Chris, … they can do it to anyone.”

“We are working with the courts to get guidance on who has legal guardianship of the patient,” the hospital said in a statement. “Within the patient’s family there is disagreement on the appropriate end-of-life care for this patient. We feel strongly that every decision we have made is in the best interest of the patient, and the Houston Methodist staff works hard and compassionately every day to help families who are facing difficult end-of-life issues.”

The hospital describes itself as “a faith-based, values-centered organization that strives to make the best choices for all [of its] patients.”

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