by Steven Ertelt
May 21, 2007
Austin, TX (LifeNews.com) — Emilio Gonzalez, the infant at the center of a Texas futile care case, died on Saturday night. The 19-month old baby died naturally with no withdrawal of treatment in his Austin hospital bed while his mother Catarina and her family stood vigilantly at his bedside.
The baby’s case could prompt lawmakers there to make changes to the law, which has come under fire from pro-life groups for only giving families 10 days to find new medical facilities to care for there loved ones when one medical center decides to withdraw lifesaving medical treatment.
Emilio was born with severe medical conditions that would prevent him from living long and his mother cared for him at home until last December when he was taken to the Austin hospital.
Within weeks of his admission, the facility rendered Emilio’s life futile and repeatedly pressured his mother to withdraw care and treatment, yet Catarina fought to protect his life.
In an email to LifeNews.com, Texas Right to Life, which began a campaign to help Catarina find a new facility to care for her son, commented on the case.
"Baby Emilio was the latest victim of Texas’ futile care law, a law enabling doctors to withdraw treatment from a patient after providing ten days notice of their intent to do so," the group said.
"Through ongoing negotiations with the hospital, Texas Right to Life, and Catarina’s attorneys, the facility continued to treat Emilio until his diseased brain and plagued little body succumbed," it added.
Last week, the Texas Senate approved a bill that would revise the law. Under the measure, families would get a minimum of 21 days to locate a medical facility that will care for the patient.
Pro-life groups and disability rights advocates have fought the law saying it promotes euthanasia and puts families in a difficult position.
Sen. Bob Deuell and House Public Health Chair Dianne Delisi had originally proposed two different measures but worked out a compromise on their bills.
"This has been a very difficult bill to deal with," Duell told the Dallas Morning News. "There’s value in each and every life. As a physician, I can tell you no person is the same when they have a disease."
The includes provisions that will ensure that patients similar to Terri Schiavo who are marked "futile" by hospital ethics committees can continue to receive food and water while the family searchers for another medical facility.
The compromise bill also provides for a liaison to help families locate medical care when a hospital refuses to provide it.
The two lawmakers are said they are seeking funding to place additional beds for futile care patients in Texas nursing homes to provide a safe haven during the transfer time period.
The compromise bill now heads to the state House for its consideration.
During a hearing on the Duell bill Lanore Dixon, who battled with St. Luke’s Episcopal Hospital over the fate of her sister Andrea Clark represents many families who have had problems with the futile care provision.
"This law allowed a hospital to steal precious time from our family during a loved one’s end days," she said, according to the Houston Chronicle. "Was that really necessary?"
Clark, 54, suffered complications following open heart surgery and required a ventilator and dialysis to survive. Her motor control faculties were damaged but, her family says her cognitive abilities were unaffected.
The hospital informed her family that her medical care would be discontinued in 10 days after a hospital committee decided Clark’s condition was beyond hope and refused further medical treatment.
It took legal action from a family attorney to prevent Clark’s treatment from being withheld, in an act of euthanasia.
Cynthia Deason, who took Houston’s Memorial Hermann Hospital to court to stop it from taking her disabled daughter off life support added, "I just don’t want anybody else to go through what I’ve gone through."
Catarina is unable to afford the cost of a funeral and pro-life advocates in Texas are urging donations to help her provide a proper burial for Emilio. You can send a donation (make checks payable to Dora Gonzalez) and send them to Catarina’s attorney at Jerri Ward, JD,
Garlo-Ward, PC, 505 East Huntland Drive, Suite 335, Austin, Texas 78752.