Jason Childress Removed From Ventilator

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Sep 11, 2003   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Jason Childress Removed From Ventilator

by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
September 11, 2003

Charlottesville, VA (LifeNews.com) — Doctors at the University of Virginia Medical Center removed Jason Childress from a ventilator Thursday afternoon, despite videotaped evidence showing him expressing his desire to stay alive.

The family has been embroiled in a dispute as to whether Jason should live or die.

On one side is Jerry Childress, Jason’s 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.

The court appointed Herbert Pickford, a retired Charlottesville Circuit Court judge, to serve as Jason’s guardian. He interviewed family members and decided Jason would have wanted to end his life.

"I have given my consent to remove the tube for breathing and to enter a ‘do not resuscitate’ order," retired Judge Herbert Pickford said.

Childress could be able to survive for several days without a ventilator. Pickford did not consent to removing Childress’ feeding tube.

Tom Marzen, a pro-life attorney who monitors end of life issues, tells LifeNews.com that Jason was weaned off of the ventilator starting on Tuesday.

In an interview with LifeNews.com, Katrina Childress, Jason’s stepmother, said she and Jerry, Jason’s father, have visited Jason on a daily basis since his automobile accident. They say he is responding to them and has clearly indicated he wants to live.

"I have been working with Jason to get him to respond to commands," Katrina told LifeNews.com. "He is successfully responding."

"Jason has raised his finger several days in a row and several times a day," she said. Katrina also said Jason would have told his brother or father if he wanted to be removed from life support in a situation such as his.

Jason has been in a coma since July 16 after an automobile accident. He was nearly removed from life support prematurely when the University of Virginia Medical Center failed to provide two weeks notice to his family before doctors gave up and wanted to pull the plug.

Jason’s father Jerry was able to get help from a local attorney, David Schreve, to delay ending Jason’s life until a court could appoint a guardian to make the decision about Jason’s fate.

"There’s nothing we can do now," Katrina said. "We’re going to pray … and he’s going to have to breathe on his own."