Press Release – For Immediate Release
“The Christ Medicus Foundation sends our prayers for the repose of the soul of 14-year-old Bobby Reyes and support for his mother, family, and friends as they deal with his tragic passing yesterday afternoon,” said Louis Brown, Executive Director of the Christ Medicus Foundation (CMF). Following an asthma attack in September the Ann Arbor, Michigan based C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital, part of the University of Michigan’s Michigan Medicine system, declared Bobby to be “brain dead”, a diagnosis that is ambiguous and varied. Bobby was placed on life support. His family believed he was making progress. According to a report Monday in the Detroit News, a clinical professor of pediatrics reviewed Bobby’s charts and found that his beating heart, lungs, and respiration were functioning, that his temperature was normal, and that he still had the potential of regaining limited to full recovery of his brain function and of potentially regaining consciousness. Despite the wishes of Bobby’s family, the hospital sought to take the boy off life support. A state court judge issued a preliminary injunction that enjoined the hospital from ending life support until this past Tuesday. On Tuesday, at a court hearing in Washtenaw County, Michigan, the judge denied a requested extension of the injunction because of a jurisdictional issue. The hospital took Bobby off life support just hours after the court hearing and he tragically passed away not long after.
“To echo Mr. Schindler, the brother of Terry Schiavo, the tragic case of Bobby Reyes demonstrates the fact that hospitals in America frequently disregard the wishes of parents and families and deny care to patients that have serious injuries or are otherwise deemed to have a ‘low quality’ of life,”’ said CMF Board President Mike O’Dea, who attended yesterday’s court hearing. Mr. O’Dea continued, “The Christ Medicus Foundation stands with Bobby Reyes’ family in this time of suffering. No child or parent should have to endure the injustice that Bobby Reyes and his family have just endured.”
Mr. Brown, a former U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) political appointee who served in HHS’ Office for Civil Rights, stated, “human and civil rights of patients and families are not being protected in much of our country’s health care system. Patients are being denied care because of the questionable decisions of hospitals and other medical facilities that are making subjective determinations about a patient’s medical condition or quality of life. It shocks the conscience that any hospital would rush so quickly to end life support for a 14-year-old boy against his family’s wishes.”
Michael Vacca, a lawyer and CMF’s head of bioethics stated that, “‘brain death’ is a highly controversial and imprecise diagnosis that does not guarantee that a person is actually dead. People given the diagnosis of ‘brain death’ are often given ‘intravenous fluids, intravenous feeding, blood transfusion, thyroid hormone, [and] adrenal hormones’ (Cf. Mercedes Arzu Wilson, Save the Brain Dead Victims, last visited 14 October 2019). It is evident that if such a person were actually dead, none of this would be necessary. Those declared ‘brain dead’ may well die once their heart stops beating and their lungs stop breathing, but the decision to continue treatment belongs to the patient and their family.”
“This case demonstrates why our country desperately needs a patient-centered healthcare system that is affordable for all, provides for the poor and vulnerable, and protects the dignity of the human person. The Christ Medicus Foundation will never stop fighting to ensure that patients and families control their health care decisions and that those who are most vulnerable are truly cared for and protected. Health care should not be a privilege bestowed by medical institutions or entities upon those deemed worthy,” stated Mr. Vacca.
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About the Christ Medicus Foundation: The Christ Medicus Foundation is a 501(c)3 Catholic nonprofit organization whose mission is to share Jesus Christ’s healing love in health care, to mobilize the Catholic health care movement to protect life, the poor and vulnerable, and religious freedom, and to work for a person-centered health care system. Since 1997, the Christ Medicus Foundation has worked to accomplish this mission through public policy, public education, and Catholic health care options, while empowering Christ-centered Catholic health care providers.