Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Right to Life?

It will be interesting to see if DeLay will rear his little head for this one. My guess is no.

Jackson Lee urges support for ill baby

Copyright 2005 Houston Chronicle

U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee intervened in Houston's latest end-of-life controversy Monday, asking that a terminally ill infant not be taken off life support.

Jackson Lee appealed to Memorial Hermann Children's and Texas Children's hospitals in the case of Knya Dismuke-Howard, a 6-month-old girl whose leukemia has spread to her brain. After doctors said they'd exhausted all treatment options, a Memorial Hermann ethics committee decided last week to remove her from life support May 9.

Jackson Lee called for Memorial Hermann to reconsider, or for Texas Children's to assume care. "I am concerned the custodial family members are being left out of the decision-making process (during) a difficult and tragic time," Jackson Lee, D-Houston, wrote both hospitals in letters faxed late Monday. "I am pleading on behalf of the baby, for its loved ones and its future."

She met with Memorial Hermann Children's CEO Steve Allen and other physicians on the case Monday night. They told her they would take her plea under advisement.

Texas Children's already had declined Dismuke-Howard's case twice, the second time Monday morning. After reviewing the infant's charts, they said they couldn't provide anything more than what Memorial Hermann was doing. Texas Children's CEO Mark Wallace will send Jackson Lee a letter to that effect today, officials said.

The Dismuke-Howard case marks the third Houston controversy this spring over a 1999 state law that allows hospitals to stop treatment even if the patient's family members disagree. The doctor's recommendation must be approved by the hospital's ethics committee, and family members must be given 10 days written notice of the decision.

Memorial Hermann's ethics committee decided Thursday, five months after diagnosing Dismuke-Howard with leukemia, that further care would be futile.

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