Join the Meeting Place for Moms!
Talk to other moms, share advice, and have fun!

(minimum 6 characters)

Elementary School Kids Elementary School Kids

Parents vs Doctors: Who Makes the Call?


Parents vs. Doctors: Who Makes the Call With Children on Life Support?

Posted by Jenny Erikson

hospital bedThere’s a well-known saying about motherhood, that having children is like watching a piece of your heart walk around outside of your body. These little people that demand our time and energy and sometimes drive us up the wall are also the most precious people in our lives.

When our kids are little, they depend on us for everything, and when they’re sick, we do all that we can to help them get better. I know I’ve made the late-night trek to urgent care and then to the 24-hour pharmacy more than once with a tiny sick person.

I’m grateful that I’ve never had to deal with childhood illness other than a high fever or projectile vomiting (yuck, by the way), but some moms aren’t so fortunate. Laura Nieves’ 2-year-old Zody Cervantes had meningitis and suffered a seizure in an emergency room two months ago. He’s currently on life support, being treated for severe brain damage.

Laura claims that the doctors at Rady’s Children’s Hospital in San Diego twice told her that they would be taking Zody off of the machines that are keeping him alive. Both times she said that she did not give her consent, and she even posted signs near his bed stating that she did not give her permission to take her son off of life support.

She recalled to NBC 7 San Diego a conversation in which a hospital staff member told her that they didn’t need her consent. Chief Medical Officer Buzz Kaufman, M.D. said that while he was not part of the conversation, it wasn’t part of the hospital’s plan to remove Zody from life support. “I've been here 40 years and, in my experience, we've never done that,” he told the news team.

Here’s the scary part: Apparently the hospital staff member was correct about the not needing parental consent. Citing 1983 California court case “Doherty v. Superior Court,” San Diego County Medical Society’s Ted Mazer, M.D. said there’s no legal precedent requiring parents’ permission to take children off life support. In that case, two doctors confirmed that the child was brain dead, the court appointed a legal guardian to the child, and life support was removed. 

According to Laura, Zody has been improving, responding to touch and voices. “I couldn't be happier. After seeing all the movements and I know there's going to be a lot more progress,” she said. I hope she’s right.

Do you think there’s ever a case where doctors should end life support for a child against the parents’ wishes?


by on Jul. 4, 2012 at 7:45 AM
Replies (11-12):
mrjonesii
by on Jul. 5, 2012 at 9:48 PM

God forbid if I'm ever in a situation.  I would want the rights.  The drs didn't give birth to my children and they can been and have been wrong numerous times.  With God all things are possible.

mrjonesii
by on Jul. 5, 2012 at 9:50 PM

Sorry to read this.  I don't know what else to say.

Quoting steelcrazy:

I've been in this position before and it isn't a pretty place to be and I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy.  It needs to be the parents choice.  Yes, it is the hardest decision that you'll ever have to make, but it still should be left up to the parents.  To rob a parent of that decision is a crime IMO and only makes the grieving process even more difficult.

The doctors that I dealt with were great about answering any and all of my questions, some of them multiple times.  They even had different doctors talk to me and give me their opinions, which was helpful.  They let me take all of the time that I needed to also consult family and even got the hospital priest for me to talk with.  Ultimately I made the best decision for my children and that is all a parent can do.  


Add your quick reply below:
You must be a member to reply to this post.
Join the Meeting Place for Moms!
Talk to other moms, share advice, and have fun!

(minimum 6 characters)