Parents fight to keep brain-damaged Canadian baby on ventilator

From time to time I will publish on my blog an interesting cases to watch in recent bioethics. Here is one by Michael Cook.

Case: Parents fight to keep brain-damaged Canadian baby on ventilator
Author: Michael Cook

A Canadian baby on a life-supporting ventilator has become the centre of the latest controversy over futile medical treatment. Isaiah May, the first child of Isaac and Rebecka, was born in Alberta on October 24. His umbilical cord had been wrapped around his neck and his brain was starved of oxygen. Doctors said that he had “irreversible brain damage.” But, although he is silent and mostly unresponsive, he began to put on weight and move. “He looks like a normal baby," says his mother.

However, his doctors felt that continuing treatment was not in Isaiah’s best interests. They told the young parents that their child was brain dead and would always need a ventilator. On January 13 they sent the Mays a letter stating that they intended to remove Isaiah from the ventilator on January 20.

“Your treating physicians regretfully have come to the conclusion that withdrawal of active treatment is medically reasonable, ethically responsible and appropriate. We must put the interests of your son foremost and it is in his best interests to discontinue mechanical ventilation support,” the letter states.

However, the Mays are determined to fight for the life of their son and want to exhaust every chance ofsurvival. This week they succeeded in getting an injunction to delay the removal until February 19. They plan to seek more medical advice and to have more tests done.

Source: Global Edmonton, Jan 27, 2010; CNNews, Jan 20, 2010.
See also: http://www.vancouversun.com/news/Parents+brain+damaged+baby+back+court+fight+life+support/2487685/story.html

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