Virginia Man Nearly Euthanized Gets Court-Appointed Guardian

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Aug 16, 2003   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Virginia Man Nearly Euthanized Gets Court-Appointed Guardian

by Steven Ertelt Editor
August 16, 2003

Charlottesville, VA ( — A man nearly wrongfully euthanized by the University of Virginia medical center, has received a court-appointed guardian.

Jason Childress has been in a coma since July 16 and was nearly removed from life support prematurely.

Jerry Childress, Jason’s father, was told that his son would be removed from life support. However, he wanted his son to have more time to recover from the injuries and to come out of the coma.

Jerry found help from a local attorney, David Schreve, who contacted the medical center. According to Schreve, the center failed to provide a 14 day advance notice to Jerry prior to the decision to remove Jason from life support, as required by law.

UVA Medical Center officials agreed not to remove life support while Jerry Childress proceeded with a request to have a local court appoint a guardian.

During an emotional hearing this week, Albemarle County Circuit Court Judge Paul Peatross appointed a guardian to interview family members, review medical records and decide whether life support should continue to be given to the 26-year-old Childress.

Herbert Pickford, a retired Charlottesville Circuit Court judge, was appointed guardian.

The hearing showed the divisions in the family about keeping Jason on life support.

On one side is Jerry Childress, his stepmother and her family, a brother and the mother of one of his children — who want to continue life support. On the other side is his mother, Theresa Spencer, his sister and the mother of his other two children — who want let Jason die.

Leah Childress, Jason’s grandmother, told the Lynchburg News and Advance she will pay for a second neurologist to do a medical evaluation on Jason to be given to the guardian.

Katrina White, the mother of Jason’s 7-year-old son, said she believes Jason will recover. "He’d want to keep fighting," she said. "He wouldn’t want to go down this easy."

She said she sees improvement in Jason every time she visits him.
"Every day he’s doing something," she said. "You can’t tell me there’s no life in there."

A second medical evaluation will be made Monday and there is no timeframe for the guardian to make a decision as to what to do next.

Jason Childress went into a coma following a single-car accident.