Last week we heard from the girlfriend of a 31-year-old man who suffered lack of oxygen after a heart attack. Just 24 hours after the incident, the hospital met with the family and pressured them to donate the young man’s organs. When the family objected, wanting to give their loved one more time to recover, the hospital told them their decision was “selfish.” Since then, the young man has become increasingly responsive. His CAT scan and EEG clearly show brain activity. When the hospital discusses his “quality of life” and terminating his care—i.e., starving and dehydrating him to death—the man becomes agitated. We are fighting to make sure he continues to receive appropriate care, including food and water.
On the same day, we received a call from the daughter of an elderly man who is in the ICU at a prestigious hospital in California. He is intubated and cannot speak for himself, but he is alert and responds to his family. Recently, the hospital informed the family that they would soon stop providing food and water and transition the elderly man to “comfort care,” which means giving him morphine until he dies. The family was appalled and prohibited the hospital from making changes to his treatment. The hospital told them “We don’t need your permission to withdraw care.” A Life Legal attorney went to court the following day and obtained a court order requiring the hospital to maintain the man’s nutrition, hydration, and any other care he needs.