Judge: Only Parents Can Remove Life Support From Son
By Eyewitness News' Joe Torres
(The Bronx-WABC, April 25, 2005) — The ruling for a 13-year-old on life support since last week is in. The judge says only the boy's parents can decide whether to turn the machines off, and doctors must honor their wishes.
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Teron is not on life-support, Teron is dead - those are the words of the medical director here at the Montefiore Medical Center, who earlier told reporters that Teron was declared dead on Thursday of last week, and they say the reason the teenager is still on what they call organ-support is to give the Francis family time to come to grips with the teenager's death.
Francis' Brother: "I just want my brother back and whatever happens, I just hope a miracle happens."
Teron Francis' mother and brother emerged from Bronx Supreme Court happy with a judge's ruling. Moments earlier Judge Douglas McKeon decided to keep in place a restraining order preventing doctors here at Montefiore Medical Center from removing the respiratory equipment attached to their loved one.
The ultimate decision regarding the teenager's future now belongs solely to the Francis family, and they aren't sure just yet what to do.
Annmarie Douglas, Aunt: "We are very religious, yes, and we do need some time and quietness to decide Teron's fate."
Judge McKeon visited Teron at Montefiore late Friday night. Doctors said a dental infection spread to the brain, leaving the teen in a coma. But the hospital disputes the family's claim that doctors planned on removing the ventilator from Teron following a diagnosis of "brain dead."
Dr. Gary Kalkut, Montefiore Medical Center: "We would never pull the plug, as it's been quoted, remove the ventilator, in the face of family objection. We wouldn't do that - that's our policy and we continue to do that to this point."
Bob Genis, Family's Lawyer: "A hospital can go to court and ask for permission to terminate life support, but the hospital didn't go to court to do that. They just told the family they were going to do it."
The hospital says it never did go to court because again it never was their intention to pull the plug on Teron. For the Francis family the options are two: they can do nothing and the doctors say that Teron's heart will give out even with the respiratory equipment or the family can decide that the respirator is no longer needed.