Friday, June 3, 2016

Brain death 5

The parents of a two-year-old California boy on life support have won a crucial interim victory in the fight to keep their son alive, the latest in a lengthy dispute over his condition and care.

Israel Stinson was airlifted to a hospital in an undisclosed location outside the United States on Saturday after weeks of searching for a facility that would provide him treatment in preparation for long-term care, in a case hinging on the contested issue of the legal definition of brain death.

The Sacramento-area Kaiser Permanente facility where Israel Stinson had been since mid-April had declared him brain dead shortly after his arrival, eschewing treatment since then and providing the child only minimal nutrition while acting to remove him from life support.

“Victory!” his Israel’s mother Jonee Fonseca said in a statement Sunday. “Israel Stinson was transferred out of Kaiser Permanente yesterday. He has been taken to another facility and is already receiving treatment.”

“It is remarkable that Israel was given more treatment in the first five hours at the new hospital than in more than five weeks at the Kaiser facility,” Life Legal Defense Fund (LLDF) Executive Director Alexandra Snyder told LifeSiteNews.

Fonseca said because of the sensitivity of her son’s case, the family is not yet prepared to release his location.

“But we can say this, in order for Israel to receive his badly needed care, he had to be transferred out of the United States,” Fonseca stated. “That’s right. After weeks and weeks of searching, no hospital facility in the United States would accept our son.”

The difficulty securing a facility to accept and treat Israel while the family sought long-term care stemmed from Kaiser’s doctors having declared him brain dead, despite the conflicting opinions of specialists retained by the family.

Snyder told LifeSiteNews that doctors at the facility where Israel is now have also said the boy is not brain dead. 

“A neurologist and Israel's pediatric specialist did an extensive examination and determined that Israel is not brain dead,” she said. “This doesn't mean he is out of the woods, as he does have a severe brain injury. But at least he is being provided treatment and nutrition now.”

Israel’s mother celebrated the fact that her son is now being “treated like a patient” and receiving basic nutrition and care.

“Israel’s medical chart at Kaiser said he was deceased. But Israel is alive!” Fonseca said. “He is right now receiving nutrients and a treatment protocol for the first time in 6 weeks.”…

Less than 24 hours after his arrival at Kaiser, the hospital performed brain function testing on Israel, without the family’s full knowledge or consent and against their wishes, prompting Fonseca to contact LLDF for help.

The legal battle began with a temporary restraining order enjoining Kaiser from removing life support to allow the family to find an interim facility for Israel, the ultimate goal being long-term care. The family was looking at New Jersey for this since its state law does not allow for a declaration of brain death in cases where the family members believe that life continues until the heart stops beating.

Fonseca and Israel’s father Nate Stinson have maintained throughout that Israel has been responsive to their touch and voices, as well as music, and they have relied openly on their faith to get them through…

“While an important goal of this case has been achieved, it has also raised serious questions about the constitutionality of the California Uniform Determination of Death Act,” Matt McReynolds stated in a report by The Sacramento Bee. “It has become clear that declarations of brain death do not always reflect medical consensus and do not comport with basic notions of due process. These legal claims have not been mooted, and we will be evaluating how best to pursue these important constitutional questions.” 


  1. Attorney Chris Dolan got a familiar phone call this past month. It was from a Vacaville family who said their 2-year-old son was declared brain-dead. They planned to fight the diagnosis and wanted the San Francisco lawyer's help.

    Since taking on the case of Jahi McMath, an Oakland teen declared brain-dead in 2013 following complications from tonsil surgery, Dolan has became an unlikely leader in a growing resistance to the medical establishment's long-standing determination that the loss of brain activity equals death.

    He was contacted by the Orange County family of Lisa Avila, a mother of seven declared brain-dead and taken off her ventilator in March 2015. Also last year, Mohammad Meshkin reached out to Dolan about his daughter, Anahita Meshkin, who had been in a coma for eight years before being declared brain-dead. The father asked Dolan for help last year, and the attorney helped craft a temporary restraining order to prevent the hospital from removing Anahita from life support.

    A Contra Costa Superior Court judge ordered two UC San Francisco neurologists to test the woman May 4, 2015, and both agreed that she was not brain-dead, a difference of opinion that is rare in most of these types of cases...

    "I worry that the more these cases begin to appear, the more pressure will come from other parents who say, 'I don't accept brain death, either,' " said Arthur Caplan, the founding director of the Division of Medical Ethics at New York University School of Medicine. "It becomes important for the medical field to be responsive to these cases. Not heartless or cruel, but nonetheless try to explain what the concept is, how it's tested."

    In a recent case, doctors at Kaiser Permanente Roseville Medical Center declared 2-year-old Israel Stinson brain-dead after he went into cardiac arrest after an asthma attack, according to court records. His parents, Jonee Fonseca and Nathaniel Stinson, have filed a federal lawsuit -- which is still being fought in court -- seeking to keep the toddler hooked up to a ventilator. The family's attorney said they did not want to comment on the case.

    "We believe we should have the last say, not a government building or not a corporation," Stinson said in an online video asking for a hospital to admit their son. "We believe our son is still alive. That should be our choice."

    Similar to Jahi's case, the family wants to move Israel to another state, presumably New Jersey, the only state where the law allows families to reject brain death on religious grounds. Their attorney, Kevin Snider, said the family has already secured transportation to another state if a hospital will take the child.

    "He has been responding recently to his mother's voice and touch," Snider said. "We don't believe this is consistent with a cadaver."

    In a statement, Chris Palkowski, chief of staff at Kaiser in Roseville, said: "Our hearts go out to this family as they cope with irreversible brain death of their son. We continue to offer our support and compassion to the family during this sad time."

    Meanwhile, more than two years after she was declared brain-dead, Jahi remains in a New Jersey apartment, where she is under the care of a nurse and her mother, Nailah Winkfield. Dolan frequently shares Winkfield's story with the families who call him.

  2. Rounds of tests for brain damage followed, including an apnea test, “during which the ventilator was removed and Israel’s CO2 levels were allowed to rise to dangerous levels in order to provoke a respiratory response,” according to the PJI report. “However, Israel was not comatose. The apnea test should never be done on patients who are not comatose, as the exam itself can lead to brain damage.”

    On April 11, Stinson was transferred to Kaiser Permanente Roseville Medical Center, where he underwent further brain testing. Three days later, the hospital issued a death certificate.

    All the while, Fonseca has advocated for her son’s care, specifically asking Kaiser staff to provide essential nutrients through a feeding tube.

    PJI describes Fonseca as a “devout Christian” who believes in God’s healing power. She insists life does not end with brain waves but heartbeats.

    “I don’t feel that it’s anybody’s right to say just because we’re not getting response from the brain right now, that we have to bury him,” Fonseca told LifeSiteNews. “When you are a mother, and you have a special connection – he’s my first-born son – you don’t give up. My God is telling me something else. Who is a doctor to go against God?”

    But Kaiser staff ignored her pleas, denying the toddler anything except a sugar solution. The hospital issued a death certificate on April 14 and planned to disconnect his breathing machine, even though a video from a few days before showed Israel responding to his mother’s voice and touch.

    “When you’re ready, baby, you wake up, okay?” Fonseca says to her son in the video as she strokes his thick, dark curls, tickles his neck and ribs. “We gotta get out of here. Whenever you’re ready, okay?”

    At her touch, the toddler slowly squirms. At other times, Fonseca reported, he squeezed her finger.

    Fonseca reached out to the Life Legal Defense Foundation, and procured a temporary restraining order to keep her son on life support. PJI later joined the fight to keep Israel alive...

    Despite doctors’ insistence that brain death is final, some patients do recover from vegetative states. In 2007, Jesse Ramirez, a veteran that doctors said would not recover from a brain injury, awoke and walked out of the hospital. Kate Adamson, diagnosed as vegetative after a stroke in 1995, is now a motivational speaker. And last year, Joey Cronin started breathing on his own after doctors declared him brain dead.

    “The system itself needs the checks and balances,” Dacus said. “The system itself does not respect the rights of parents, nor does it respect their religious beliefs and convictions, or how their child should be properly dealt with.”

  3. Still, Magnus said, there are strict policies and procedures in place to determine when someone is brain-dead and — when followed correctly — the diagnosis is definitive.

    But Paul A. Byrne, a pediatric neonatologist who has written extensively about brain death issues, disagrees.

    Byrne, a former president of the Catholic Medical Association and president of a faith-based group called Life Guardian Foundation, wrote a court declaration for Fonseca, arguing that there may be hope for her toddler.

    "The brain swelling in Israel Stinson began with the cardiorespiratory arrest that occurred more than three weeks ago," he wrote, adding that the boy "may achieve even complete or nearly complete neurological recovery if he is given proper treatment soon."

    "Every day that passes," he said, "Israel is deprived of adequate nutrition and thyroid hormone required for healing."

    They argue that withdrawing medical treatment violates their constitutional rights — including freedom of religion.

    Attorney Alexandra Snyder, executive director of the Life Legal Defense Foundation, said removing Israel from life support goes against the family's religious beliefs.

    "They believe that death does not occur until the heart stops beating," Snyder, who initially helped represent Fonseca in court, told The Post.

    "God is telling me not to let go," Fonseca wrote on a GoFundMe page. " Israel means apple of God's eye and he truly is a child of God with a lot of fight in him!"

    Byrne, the pediatric neonatologist, said the toddler suffers from hypoxia, a condition in which body tissues do not receive enough oxygen, as well as hypothyroidism, in which the body does not have sufficient thyroid hormones.

    He said Israel was also being treated for diabetes insipidus, a rare disorder that, according to the Mayo Clinic, causes an imbalance of water in the body.

    "With proper medical treatment as proposed by his parents, Israel is likely to continue to live, and may find limited to full recovery of brain function, and may possibly regain consciousness," Byrne wrote in court documents.

  4. A 2-year-boy declared brain dead by three doctors is showing improvement in a hospital in a foreign country, the attorney for the toddler’s family claimed Friday.

    Israel Stinson was air-lifted out of the United States, from the Kaiser Medical Center in Roseville, Calif., two weeks ago.

    The parents of the young boy say he is still alive, and went to court to force the center to keep him on life support while they looked for another hospital.

    A federal judge ruled against the parents, Jonee Fonseca and Nate Stinson. An appeal was filed; but soon afterward, the boy was air-lifted out of the country.

    Family attorney Kevin Snider said, “Israel is getting treatment and is showing improvement.” Neither he nor the family would say which country Israel was flown to, citing privacy concerns. He was first taken to hospital in April after suffering a severe asthma attack.

    In a statement issued after the boy was flown out of the country, his mother said “Israel has been given incredible care.”

    Fonseca said he is “receiving all the proper nutrition (vitamins, fats, proteins etc.) plus he's finally got both surgeries done (breathing and feeding tube).”

    “It is amazing that we were able to get Israel out of there just in the nick of time because the previous hospital failed to notify us of many complications Israel had that we were unaware of,” Fonseca said.

    “Israel came to this new hospital with a pneumonia, ulcers, and was in need of a blood transfusion so very bad. Israel has now been healed of all these things.”

    Fonseca claimed tests done in the new hospital show Israel “has active brain waves.”

    ”In the past 48 hours, Israel has been taking breaths all on his own so we are working to wean him off of the ventilator, which hopefully will happen in just a few weeks,” said Fonseca.

  5. Phillip Menke said Mirranda is not currently deteriorating and her blood pressure has actually improved, and therefore the main argument in last Tuesday’s hearing was for more time to allow the child to heal, and to ask the court to order the hospital to provide thyroid and other treatments recommended by specialist Doctor Paul Byrne.

    “Barring that,” Menke said, “we asked the court to follow state law and provide the family a reasonable amount of time to seek a transfer to another physician.”

    Byrne, of the Life Guardian Foundation, has been brought in as a specialist in other cases of disputed brain death, including Jahi McMath and Israel Stinson.

    Thirteen-year-old Jahi McMath was declared brain dead by an Oakland, CA, hospital in 2013, but later showed responsiveness and has continued to receive long term care after being moved to another facility.

    Israel Stinson’s family recently fought with a Sacramento-area hospital for weeks to keep the two-year-old on life support after doctors there declared him brain dead, the toddler reportedly exhibiting responsiveness as well. He has been moved to a hospital in an undisclosed location outside the United States for interim care until a long-term facility can be secured.

    While Menke had filed an affidavit from Byrne with the court in the Lawsons’ case, the judge also ruled that it would not be admitted into evidence since Byrne was not present in court to be cross-examined.

    Menke said he had argued that the apnea brain death test itself was harmful and if it were performed on Mirranda, she would suffer irreparable harm.

    He said the hospital’s physician confirmed in court that during the test, Mirranda would be taken off the respirator for around 8-10 minutes, but even up to 15 minutes.

    She would be given extra oxygen at the beginning of the test, but Menke said the danger is that if she does not breathe on her own, and the doctor believes she will not, then she will not exhale carbon dioxide.

    “So the carbon dioxide would build up in her blood, causing acidosis, and increased swelling in the brain, and likely more brain damage,” he said. “The build up of carbon dioxide is a ‘requirement’ of the test that they measure.”

    He added that Mirranda's parents believe that the hospital could have been doing more, such as providing thyroid treatments, addressing her adrenal function with steroids and giving her better nutrition, and if they had provided these treatments from the beginning, then she would have a better chance to recover.

    Still, the hospital is unwilling to do any additional treatments.

    Menke told LifeSiteNews there are questions as to why VCU had not given Mirranda Lawson thyroid treatments to give her the best chance to pass the apnea brain death test, as her hypothyroidism is due to her brain injury, which the hospital acknowledged. This is further at issue because the hospital’s own guidelines require that metabolic disturbances such as hypothyroidism should be treated and corrected before proceeding with apnea brain death testing.

    The physician had responded that neither a hypothyroidism screen nor treatment was part of the hospital’s "standard of care," according to Menke, the physician saying this was because the thyroid treatments are difficult to get, carry some risk, and ultimately the hospital maintains it is unnecessary because they believe Mirranda is already brain dead.

  6. “Israel’s parents are finally able to get their son the treatment he has needed for the past six weeks,” said Life Legal Executive Director Alexandra Snyder. “It is disappointing that they had to travel outside the United States to do so, but we are grateful that the current hospital is providing Israel with nutrition and excellent care.”

    “Most importantly, specialists have determined that Israel is not brain dead,” Snyder continued. “California’s brain death statute does not allow for a truly independent examination, thus depriving patients of the right to due process involving the most fundamental of constitutionally protected rights: the right to life itself.”

    After more than six weeks without any nutrition except dextrose, Israel is finally receiving the nutrients he needs, including protein, fats and vitamins, the legal group said. He is also getting a comprehensive treatment protocol for severely brain injured patients, according to the legal group.

    Israel is expected to receive a tracheotomy and gastrostomy sometime in the next week. Then, his family hopes to be able to bring him back to the United States for home care. His parents are consulting with neurologists and other specialists regarding coma arousal procedures to give Israel the best possible opportunity to recover his brain function, the legal group said.

    Several medical experts, including a neurologist and a pediatric specialist, examined Israel and agreed that he does not meet the criteria for brain death, the pro-life legal group said. An EEG performed on Monday also indicated that the toddler shows signs of brain activity, according to the group.

    Since the “brain dead” diagnosis, witnesses also observed Israel reacting to his mother’s voice and touch and captured several of the occasions in a series of videos on YouTube. One video shows the toddler shrugging as his mother talks to him and tickles him. On the video, his mother says his monitors also indicate that he is reacting to her voice and touch. Another video shows him moving as his mother massages and moves his legs.

    Here is more from Life Legal:

    Israel’s movements in response to his mother’s voice and touch, shown in these videos, are not consistent with brain death.

    Life Legal was recently contacted by a neurologist who told us: “Any head movement by a person, whether to verbal stimuli or spontaneously, reveals that there is intact functioning of the brain, and indeed functioning of the cerebrum, and not just the brainstem…. Unlike adults, this child brain has more plasticity which means there is a much better chance of recovery from even the worst brain injury, so attempts to force this child’s family to have him die are truly deplorable.”

    NBC Dateline aired a segment about the brain’s amazing capacity for self-repair just a few days ago in which it was noted that “Those first movements can be subtle, but crucial, because they can signal that a patient is getting better. And they may take weeks to appear.”

  7. Mirranda Lawson is a two-year-old girl who choked on popcorn about one month ago (May 11). Within a few days, the doctors and hospital were presenting to the parents that Mirranda was "brain dead." However, they could not confirm "brain death" without doing the crucial and lethal apnea test.

    Mirranda's parents wanted the ventilator to be continued, but the doctors and the hospital wanted to stop Mirranda's ventilator for 10 minutes. This is called an apnea test, and it can only make Mirranda's condition get worse and possibly kill her.

    We were in court on Thursday, June 9. After the judge heard the testimonies, the judge said he would rule on Friday, June 10. His ruling was that the doctors and the hospital could carry out the testing and evaluation at their discretion.

    The judge heard testimony that the removal of the ventilator from Mirranda could only harm her and possibly kill her. Yet he ruled that the doctors and the hospital could remove Mirranda's life support.

    Yes, we hear about killing of many innocent people in Orlando. It is absolutely awful that these actions occur. But is it any more awful than that the medical and legal system has a way to impose death on beautiful 2-year-old Mirranda Lawson?

    Mirranda choked on popcorn. Miranda had a lack of oxygen resulting in her being in an unconscious comatose state but still alive. When a person, especially a young person, is unconscious and on a ventilator, the desire is to get their vital organs for transplantation into others who have a greater lobby.

    Is Mirranda the only one that has fallen prey to the medical and legal system to get organs? No – every time a heart is transplanted, it is a beating heart that is observed by the surgeon as he prepares to stop and immediately cut out the heart from that person. Every time there is a declaration of "brain death" followed by vital organ excision, the transplant surgeon opens the chest and sees the beating heart. Does he not know the difference between life and death?

  8. A Virginia family is fighting for the life of their 2-year-old daughter this week after a hospital said she probably is brain dead.

    WTVR News 6 reports Mirranda Grace Lawson choked on a piece of popcorn on May 11 and currently is on a ventilator. Doctors at VCU Medical Center said the toddler meets the criteria for brain death, and they want to do a brain test to confirm the prognosis.

    However, a brain death diagnosis likely would result in Mirranda’s ventilator being removed, and her family wants to give her a chance to recover. Her parents, Patrick and Alison Lawson, took the hospital to court this week asking for more time for their daughter, according to the report.

    On Tuesday, a judge granted the family’s request for more time, the report states. The judge said Mirranda’s case was too sensitive to make a quick decision and delayed the case for 10 days.

    Patrick Lawson told CBS 6 that they are working to find a new hospital that will agree to treat Mirranda. He said they have not found one yet, but they are grateful to the judge for giving them more time.

    They also asked the judge to require the hospital to provide thyroid treatments, which could help the 2-year-old girl to recover, the Lawsons’ lawyer Phillip Menke said.

    “We’re asking them to do a little bit more than that, just to give Mirranda the best shot she has,” Menke said.

    “She’s a beautiful little girl,” her father told reporters. “She deserves a chance. That’s all we want is for her to have a chance.”

    Her case is the second in the past few months involving a battle between a hospital and the family of a young child.

  9. A Virginia family has a little more time to secure alternative medical arrangements for their daughter, after a judge allowed temporary suspension Tuesday of an order allowing the hospital where she is a patient to withdraw her life support.

    "We've surely had many good prayers today," the attorney for the family told LifeSiteNews.

    Phillip Menke said he will be assisting Patrick and Alison Lawson in filing an appeal bond on Wednesday to enjoin Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) Health System from taking two-year-old Mirranda Grace Lawson off of life support and performing a controversial test for brain activity.

    They will have until Friday to get the appeal bond filed, the latest chapter in the case involving the contentious issue of legal brain death.

    Menke had filed a notice of appeal after Judge Melvin R. Hughes, Jr.'s ruling last Friday allowing the apnea test - a test commonly used to determine if someone is "brain dead" - and this week's decision accepting the appeal bond will allow suspension of the order until the Virginia Supreme Court decides whether to hear the Lawsons' appeal.

    Menke said the premise of the Lawsons' case is that parents have the right to decide in these situations, not the hospital or the court…

    The hospital has retained a big law firm, with multiple partners already working on this case, and he expects a response from them with the Virginia Supreme Court regarding the appeal bond.

    Still, he hopes the hospital will be more helpful now that the appeal in process.

    "We would like them to do a tracheostomy and feeding tube to make transferring Mirranda to home or elsewhere easier," said Menke.

    Several local hospitals have indicated they would take the same approach to Mirranda's care that VCU has, he told LifeSiteNews, and providing her home care involves several components that have yet to be worked out.

    Menke remains hopeful, and as of Tuesday he'd gotten a couple more leads.

    "We are still diligently pursuing every lead we can get to transfer her out," he said.

  10. Paperwork filed in court Wednesday shows the hospital cannot perform an apnea test on Mirranda Grace Lawson to determine brain death if the parents post an appeal bond. Their attorney, Phillip Menke, explained the judge agreed that if the family posts a $30,000 appeal bond by Friday, then the hospital cannot perform the apnea test. If they do not post bond, then the VCU Health System can perform the test on

    If they do not post bond, then the VCU Health System can perform the test on Mirranda.

    Doctors treating her say she is past the point of recovery, and the test will prove it.

    Her parents object to the test because they believe it is harmful. They say she just needs more time to heal and is showing signs of improvement.

    Lawson's attorney told us they posted the appeal bond today. Now they have three months to file a petition to try to get the case before the Virginia Supreme Court.

    Patrick Lawson, Mirranda's father said he thinks the $30,000 is extreme, but worth every penny. He doesn't care how many years it takes to pay it back if it means another chance for his daughter to wake up.

  11. On their GoFundMe page, Fonseca posted a message Sunday that read: “After weeks and weeks of searching, no hospital facility in the United States would accept our son. And because of you all and your generous donations, Israel was able to beat the odds and is now being cared for as a live human being.”

    The post states that Israel, declared brain-dead in mid-April by two doctors at Kaiser and one at UC Davis, has been examined at the foreign hospital by a neurologist and a pediatric specialist, both of whom concluded that “our son is not dead.” As a result, Israel is now “receiving nutrients (besides Dextrose) and a treatment protocol for the first time in 6 weeks.”

    Snyder confirmed the post. “At this new hospital, a pediatric specialist and a neurologist both looked at him and said he’s not brain-dead. I heard that directly from the pediatric specialist via email,” she said.

    “It tells me there’s at least a question about his diagnosis,” she added. “I’m just grateful there is somebody who’s willing to not give up on him.”

    Because Israel had been declared brain-dead – meaning there is no brain function – Kaiser doctors deemed it medically risky and ethically inappropriate to install a feeding or a breathing tube. Instead, during the prolonged court fight, he was sustained with an intravenous combination of medications, glucose, hormones, water and electrolytes to keep his heart, lungs and other systems functioning mechanically.

    At the foreign facility, Israel is receiving “protein, fats, vitamins and a treatment protocol that includes thyroid hormones,” which help with metabolism and other functions, Snyder said. Temporarily, he’s being fed through a nasal tube to his stomach, but eventually a regular feeding tube will be installed.

    Israel’s treatment is considered a temporary move, lasting a few weeks or up to a month until he is stabilized. Ideally, Snyder said, his parents hope to bring him back to California where he can be cared for in-home or at a long-term care facility, depending on insurance coverage and his diagnosis.

    Read more here:

  12. Hello to all of our supporters we just want to inform you all that Israel is making an amazing recovery since his gastronomy and tracheotomy tube have been placed. He is gaining weight, taking some of his own breaths, moving his fingers and toes and eyes are dilating, hes even impressing the Drs. As you all may know we are still outside of the country but will be returning shortly to the States with a brand new hospital willing to accept us now that he is considered "not brain dead". We just want to thank you all again for your words of encouragement as well as your continued prayers, the love we have received is so uplifting we cant thank you all enough. This journey has not been easy, with not only the emotional and mental stress it has taken on us but of course the financial toll it has been, medical bills have not stopped and other expenses are only rising that is why we ask that you all continue to help us with your generous donations. We cant wait to come back home to the US but it will take some more help of our loving supporters. So please continue to pray and help with whatever you can our son has made it so far, further than anyone expected and we just cant wait til the day he wakes up and opens his eyes. God has been amazing he is with us and he always sends us the right people, they say it takes a village and we have a beautiful village helping to heal our son. Again we just thank you all for your support we could not have made it this far without you all.

  13. “At the new hospital, Israel not only received an honest and accurate diagnosis. He not only received much better nutrition than he’d been granted in his American hospital. He also received a tracheotomy and gastrostomy,” Life Legal said in an email this week.

    Alexandra Snyder, executive director of the legal group, said Israel has surprised his new doctors with his improvements. She said he is moving more every day, and his blood pressure is stable.

    “The problem is… the hospital that performed these procedures is not equipped to provide little Israel’s long-term care,” Snyder wrote in the email. “A facility especially designed for children with brain injuries like Israel’s has already agreed to take him. But the parents do not have the money to get him home — or to get him back into this country at all!”

    The pro-life legal group is trying to raise $35,000 by the end of June to help move Israel to the new facility in the U.S. The toddler’s parents have to pay for everything out of pocket, because their health insurance won’t, according to Life Legal. The family has insurance through the same Kaiser hospital group that declared Israel brain dead, according to the group. His journey back to the U.S. also will be extremely expensive because he needs to fly on a specially equipped air ambulance, the group reports. Ultimately, Israel’s family said they hope to be able to care for him at home.

    Snyder continued: “Faced with the dreadful choice between leaving him at Kaiser Roseville to die or sacrificing funds to get him to a caring hospital, they chose escape. How can anyone with a heart think they made the wrong choice?”

    “A little boy’s life hangs in the balance. Please don’t let him down!” Snyder ended.

    Several medical experts, including a neurologist and a pediatric specialist, examined Israel and agreed that he does not meet the criteria for brain death, the pro-life legal group said. An EEG performed in May also indicated that the toddler showed signs of brain activity, according to the group...

    Since the “brain dead” diagnosis, witnesses also observed Israel reacting to his mother’s voice and touch and captured several of the occasions in a series of videos on YouTube. One video shows the toddler shrugging as his mother talks to him and tickles him. On the video, his mother says his monitors also indicate that he is reacting to her voice and touch. Another video shows him moving as his mother massages and moves his legs.

  14. The parents of a two-year old girl on life support at VCU Medical Center for nearly two months are now asking that the hospital allow them to take her home for continued care and treatment, the latest development in a protracted legal battle over the girl’s care.

    Mirranda Grace Lawson choked on a popcorn kernel on May 11th at her home in Woodbridge. Doctors at VCU Medical Center stabilized her, but an initial test indicated she might have suffered permanent brain damage. When doctors attempted a second test to confirm whether Lawson was permanently brain dead, the family protested, saying it would cause further damage.

    Lawson’s father, Patrick Lawson, also believed the hospital might use a failed test as means to move Mirranda Grace off life support, something he could not accept.

    Lawson, along with attorney Philip Menke of Manassas, eventually obtained a temporary order delaying the test, and have run a series of delaying actions in the courts to give Mirranda time, they hope, to recover. Already they say she requires less medication, and has seen improvements in blood pressure and other vital signs when her mother reads scripture, or when she hears Elvis, her favorite artist.

    Mirranda’s family, now backed by the Life Legal Defense Foundation, and a $30,000 bond taken out by Lawson, will now have their day in front of the Virginia Supreme Court, who will ultimately determine whether a test can be ordered.

    “I’m not rich. I can’t hold them off forever, Lawson told WUSA9 on Thursday. “Eventually they’re going to take everything I got. I just hope they don’t take my daughter’s life.”

    Now the Lawson’s are asking for the hospital to give Mirranda appropriate feeding and breathing tubes so that they can take her home, or to a long term care facility.

    A representative of the hospital declined WUSA9’s interview request, but in a statement acknowledged the “difficult situation” all parties now find themselves in.

    “In the nearly two months Mirranda Lawson has been in the VCU Medical Center pediatric critical care unit, her expert and compassionate medical team has provided around-the- clock, highly-specialized critical care that cannot be given in a home setting,” a hospital spokesperson wrote. “Other agencies and hospitals have reviewed her case and are either not able to support her intensive care needs or they indicated they would not do anything different than what is already being done.”...

    “I have the lord on my side, he keeps telling me to fight,” Lawson said Thursday. “Mirranda keeps getting better. If she’s fighting, how can I give up?”

  15. The Virginia Supreme Court denied a request by Virginia Commonwealth University Health System to expedite its ruling which would allow the hospital to conduct a test to determine whether or not a 2-year-old girl is brain dead.

    Mirranda Grace Lawson has been at VCU Medical Center since she choked on a piece of popcorn at her home in Woodbridge in May. Though the doctors believed Mirranda was past the point of recovery, the Lawson family has been in a legal battle to keep her on life support.

    Last month, the Richmond Circuit Court ruled against the Lawson family, saying the hospital could perform an apnea brain death test. But the judge allowed the family, now backed by the Life Legal Defense Foundation, to pay a $30,000 bond to stop the hospital from conducting the test while it appealed the decision.

    That appeal is scheduled for September 14.

    VCU also filed a petition for review of that decision with the Virginia Supreme Court. This would have allowed for a faster review of the injunction, meaning the Court would hear the case before the September date. On Friday, that petition was denied.

  16. After doctors with the Virginia Commonwealth University Health System informed the Lawsons that Mirranda was likely brain dead, the family went to court to block the hospital from conducting the so-called apnea test. It involves taking the toddler off the ventilator briefly to see if her brain tries to tell the body to breathe on its own.

    In a handwritten note to doctors, the Lawsons expressed opposition to the test. They cited their Christian faith and said removing her from life support would be "murder."…

    "Having one of the PICU beds and all the human resources that entails, occupied by Mirranda, who has likely been dead for weeks, jeopardizes the care of critically ill children that VCU Health System is being forced to turn away," a health system attorney wrote.

    Such cases are exceedingly rare, said Arthur Caplan, of the division of medical ethics at New York University's School of Medicine. But legal fights over children on life support have erupted in other states as far off as California.

    Hospitals typically don't even ask before performing such routine tests, Caplan said.

    "You'd have chaos if doctors were asking permission to do every test relative to the determination of death," he said…

    The hospital also says that Virginia law indicates doctors could conclude the girl is brain dead without further testing, but that it is complying with national guidelines by pursuing the apnea test "to give the parents absolute confirmation."

    But Patrick Lawson said he believes Mirranda is improving. He said her heart rate and blood pressure respond to her favorite music and her family's voices, but the hospital said it can't disclose any details about that because of privacy laws. They want her doctors to give her a portable ventilator and feeding tube so she can be transferred to another hospital or cared for at home.

    "Why not see what can happen?" said Alexandra Snyder, executive director of the Life Legal Defense Foundation, a California-based group assisting the Lawsons' attorney…

    David Magnus, of the Stanford Center for Biomedical Ethics, said temporarily taking the child off the ventilator to perform the test shouldn't cause any problems.

    "It's hard to see what grounds the family would have to object unless they simply don't want to hear the bad news that their loved one has passed away," Magnus said.

    A VCU spokesman said other agencies and hospitals have reviewed Mirranda's case and either couldn't support her intensive care needs or said they wouldn't do anything different than what's being done.

    "This is a difficult situation," spokesman Michael Porter said in an email. "Mirranda's medical team and everyone involved want the best for Mirranda and her family."

    Patrick Lawson says he just wants to give his daughter more time.

    "She was always very strong and determined," he said. "She's proving them all wrong."