To Texas Children’s Hospital, 10-month-old Nick Torres died last week. However, despite this declaration, the child’s heart is still beating. Now his family is fighting to keep him on life support or bring him home for hospice care.
It’s another example of a deeply flawed Texas law that allows hospitals and doctors to kill critically ill patients without their family’s consent.
On September 24, Nick Torres was found unresponsive in a bathtub. Taken to the hospital, the baby has yet to regain consciousness, but his heart continues to beat on its own. The doctor declared him dead on Wednesday, September 30. The family would like to continue treatment at another hospital or take him home for hospice care, but the hospital believes he has no brain activity and has given up hope. They would prefer for the child to die by removing his life support machines.
The family is devastated.
Nick Torres’s mother made a plea on social media, stating, “As a mother, I have faith in God. And I want to leave it to God, for God to decide if he wants to take him, not for a human being to decide over my son. As a mother I have rights, and I have rights to decide over my baby if I want to keep him alive…So please, please help me out. His heart’s still beating on his own, he’s still fighting for his life.”
On Friday, the hospital decided, with the support of a Texas law, to remove life support from Nick on Monday. His parents filed an emergency injunction on Sunday, which will allow the family to continue his fight until 5:00 p.m. Wednesday.
The family’s attorney Kevin Acevedo said in a press conference, “It’s an urgent appeal that we are filing. If they take up the case, we’re going to ask them to basically allow the parents more time and the principal issue that we’re going to ask them now is to nullify or undo what a doctor did on Wednesday, which was declare Nick officially deceased.”
It’s difficult to imagine that a hospital would be so eager to declare a child dead, but that’s the power that the state of Texas has given hospitals. It’s called the ‘10-Day Rule.’
As Texas Right to Life describes it, “A partial hospital committee has the power to decide to withdraw treatment for any reason, including the subjective anti-life assessment of ‘quality of life.’ The hospital can then remove treatment, even life-sustaining treatment (ventilator, dialysis, etc.), and the patient cannot appeal the decision. Even if the patient is conscious, coherent, and actively requesting the continuation of life-sustaining treatment, the 10-Day-Law gives the hospital the power to overrule the patient’s wishes. The alarming provisions under the 10-Day-Law have been accurately described by people across the political spectrum as ‘death panels.’ The patient and his or her legal surrogate have a mere 10 days to arrange an emergency transfer to another facility that would be willing to continue treatment. Such a transfer is often extraordinarily complicated in such cases, and there are no practical means under the 10-Day-Law for a typical patient to stop the ticking clock on their own.”
This directive allows hospital panels to essentially play executioner to patients that doctors deem unworthy of life.
The Houston Press described it like this, “In Texas it doesn’t matter what instructions you’ve previously given or what your relatives say: If you’re in critical condition, you’re dependent on machines to survive and hospital officials decide it’s time to pull the plug, you will die. And it’s completely legal.”
This happened to Tinslee Lewis, a one-year-old girl who has spent her entire life at Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth, Texas due to a rare heart condition. The hospital has been trying to kill her for months, and the family has fought against it, finally receiving a court decision that will allow her to stay on life support for the near future. The hospital argues that she remains in pain.
It also happened to Chris Dunn—a 46-year-old man who was admitted to the hospital due to a mass on his pancreas. The doctors were never able to give him a definitive diagnosis of what was causing his illness, but decided that his life was no longer worth living and wanted to pull him off life support, even though he remained cognitive. He died of natural causes.
The so-called ’10-Day Rule’ is problematic. It allows a panel of individuals, based on the recommendations of a physician, to determine whether a person lives or dies without exhausting every opportunity or taking the family’s wishes into consideration. That’s not mercy, it’s a panel of death.
Screenshot from video
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