Friday, November 02, 2007


UPDATED below:

Wesley Smith in the November 5th Weekly Standard:
On October 19, only months after being nearly dehydrated to death when his feeding tube was removed, Jesse Ramirez walked out of the Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix on his own two legs. Ramirez is lucky to be alive. Early last June, a mere one week after a serious auto accident left him unconscious, his wife Rebecca and doctors decided he would never recover and pulled his feeding tube. He went without food and water for five long days. But then his mother, Theresa, represented by lawyers from the Arizona-based Alliance Defense Fund, successfully took Rebecca to court demanding a change of guardianship on the grounds that Rebecca and Jesse's allegedly rocky marriage disqualified her for the role.

The judge ordered that Jesse be temporarily rehydrated and nourished. Then Jesse regained consciousness. Now, instead of dying by dehydration, he will receive rehabilitation and get on with his life--all because his mother rejected the reigning cultural paradigm that a life with profound cognitive dysfunction is not worth living.

From the November 3rd Daily Mail (UK):
They say twins share a strong bond - but the one between Gabriel and Ieuan Jones was unbreakable.

When doctors found that Gabriel was weaker than his brother, with an enlarged heart,and believed he was going to die in the womb, his mother Rebecca Jones had to make a heartbreaking decision.

Doctors told her his death could cause his twin brother to die too before they were born, and that it would be better to end Gabriel's suffering sooner rather than later.

Mrs Jones decided to let doctors operate to terminate Gabriel's life.

Firstly they tried to sever his umbilical cord to cut off his blood supply, but the cord was too strong.

They then cut Mrs Jones's placenta in half so that when Gabriel died, it would not affect his twin brother.

But after the operation which was meant to end his life, tiny Gabriel had other ideas.

Although he weighed less than a pound, he put up such a fight for survival that doctors called him Rocky.

Astonishingly, he managed to carry on living in his mother's womb for another five weeks - until the babies were delivered by caesarean section.

Now he and Ieuan are back at home in Stoke - and are so close they are always holding each other's hand.

Mrs Jones, 35, a financial adviser whose husband Mark, 36, is a car salesman, said: "It really is a miracle. Doctors carried out an operation to let Gabriel die - yet he hung on.

"It was unbelievable."

"When I felt him kicking madly the morning after the operation, I suddenly knew that he was going to hang on.

"The doctors couldn't believe it when they could still hear his heartbeat the next morning." . .

At Birmingham Women's Hospital, when Mrs Jones was 25 weeks pregnant, doctors tried to sever Gabriel's umbilical cord to cut off his blood supply and allow him to die.

But the cord was too thick, and they could not cut through it.

As a last resort they divided Mrs Jones's placenta so that when Gabriel died, it would allow Ieuan to survive. Mrs Jones said: "I put my hands on my stomach thinking of Gabriel. It was devastating. I had said my goodbyes."

But the next morning Mrs Jones felt Gabriel kicking. A scan showed his heart was still beating. She said: "No one could quite believe it."

Gabriel hung on, and his enlarged heart started to reduce in size. He also gained weight.

Mrs Jones said: "They thought it may be because the placenta had been divided. Inadvertently, it had evened out the distribution of nutrition between them, allowing Gabriel to survive.'

When Mrs Jones reached 31 weeks doctors carried out a caesarian to deliver the twins. Ieuan weighed 3lb 8oz and Gabriel 1lb 15oz. Both were kept in hospital, but since going home they have thrived. At seven months, Ieuan weighs 15lb and Gabriel 12lb 6oz.
(via The Corner)


Anonymous said...

A tear jerker!

But I must question the last sentence. His mom might not have rejected anything, except perhaps her daughter-in-law (or her decision). Her actions were more likely out of "love for her son" than a thorough analysis and rejection of reigning cultural paradigms. Then again, maybe Mr. Smith is speaking about subconscious paradigms.

Either way, we should shed a tear, not only for Jesse, but also for his Mom, family, friends . . . and even Rebecca!


Carl said...


I mostly agree--but wonder if you're missing the point. As was true in the Schiavo situation, the scariest thing about this example is the inherent conflict of interest in letting life support decisions be made by a faithless spouse. Mom's actions were likely motivated by love--but Rebecca's possible opposite incentives unfortunately make caution, and judicial oversight, obligatory. (The same thing might be true for hospitals on the hook for healthcare costs that overvalue freeing up a bed.)

I'll join you in shedding a tear for Rebecca--if her motives were pure.

Stan said...

I think it should be love that guides decisions like these. What happened in this case was what should have happened unfortunately, judicial intervention.

This is more a social than a legal issue, that reigning cultural paradigm is what needs to change.