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Teen's Transfer Defuses Life Support Battle 

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Old 07-01-2011, 01:31 PM
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Teen's Transfer Defuses Life Support Battle

A Sugar Land brain cancer patient was transferred from Texas Children's Hospital to a long-term acute-care facility on Thursday, beating the pediatric hospital's plan to remove his life support by five days.

In the latest conflict involving the state law that allows hospitals to discontinue life-sustaining treatment of patients they deem futile, Jordan Allen arrived at Atrium Medical Center Thursday night after a fight between his parents and Texas Children's doctors and ethicists.

"We're greatly relieved," said Samuel Allen. "We knew we were up against the clock."

Allen said he and his wife want to give Jordan, 14, "a fighting chance," even though they know he faces long odds. He has inoperable glioblastoma, a particularly lethal cancer, and is currently on a ventilator and comatose.
'Agonizing situation'

Citing federal privacy laws, Texas Children's declined to comment about Allen's condition. In a statement released before the matter's resolution, they called this "a challenging and emotional time for the patient and his family and the doctors and staff of Texas Children's Hospital" and said "our collective hearts go out to our patient and his family as they face this agonizing situation."

The plan to remove Jordan's life support against the parents' wishes was a rare but not unprecedented case at a pediatric hospital. In 2005, it was thought to be a first nationally when Texas Children's removed the breathing tube of a baby born with a fatal form of dwarfism.

Since then, other hospitals in Texas have invoked the law and sought to end a child's life support on a handful of occasions, but in each case the child either died before the deadline or the family found a transfer facility.

The law, passed in 1999, has been applied more frequently with adults. It gives hospitals the right to end a patient's life support as long as an ethics committee determines further treatment is "medically inappropriate" and loved ones have at least 10 days to look for a facility that will accept the patient.

The Allens had thought they'd resolved this conflict earlier in the week, when Atrium agreed to take the boy. But BlueCross BlueShield of Alabama, the family insurance carrier, refused to cover the move, saying in a review of an appeal that "the patient's acute-care needs are safely being met" at Texas Children's. To the Allens' surprise, however, the insurance company late Thursday afternoon reversed its position and said it would cover Atrium's treatment.

Scott Poston, Atrium's chief clinical officer, said he is hopeful that Jordan can be weaned off the ventilator in a short period of time. The teen, diagnosed in August, previously received chemotherapy and radiation but is not now on cancer therapy.
Low legislative profile

Poston also said Jordan has limited movement in his right arm, shoulder and eye. His father said he was completely unresponsive when he was brought to Texas Children's May 29 after collapsing at home and going into cardiac arrest. Two weeks later, hospital officials approached the family about removing life support and scheduled an ethics committee meeting for two days later. The committee eventually set July 5 as the day to remove the ventilator.

Cases involving the law were in the news frequently in 2005 and 2006 and the 2007 Legislature took a long look at a compromise bill that would have extended the time-to-transfer to 21 days, but it died on the floor as the legislative clock ran down. The issue has had a lower profile since, and reform bills have died in committee.

Read more: http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/...#ixzz1Qs6tfUgg

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Old 07-01-2011, 01:33 PM
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Re: Teen's Transfer Defuses Life Support Battle

I understand where the parents are coming from. It would be a terrible situation to see your child dying and then to have the hospital want to take time away from you.

At the same time though, the child is going to die regardless because of his condition. I see why the hospital would want to take him off support.

Very sad.

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Old 07-01-2011, 04:38 PM
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Re: Teen's Transfer Defuses Life Support Battle

It's a very sad situation indeed

If I was in the parents' shoes, I don't know what would be worse: letting the child off the life support or to watch them suffer.

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