Jason Childress Still Breathing After Removal of Ventilator

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Sep 14, 2003   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Jason Childress Still Breathing After Removal of Ventilator

by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
September 14, 2003

Charlottesville, VA (LifeNews.com) — Despite being taken off a ventilator on Thursday afternoon, Jason Childress, the man at the center of another national euthanasia debate, is still breathing on his own.

Doctors at the University of Virginia Medical Center removed Jason Childress from the ventilator even though videotaped evidence obtained by his father and stepmother showing him expressing his desire to stay alive.

Katrina Childress, Jason’s stepmother, told LifeNews.com that Jason was still alive when she left the hospital Saturday night.

"Jason is still breathing on his own and his respirations were 21 when I left this evening," Katrina said.

Jason was expected to survive several days without the ventilator. However, the next week will be crucial to determine whether he lives or dies.

The court appointed Herbert Pickford, a retired Charlottesville Circuit Court judge, to serve as Jason’s guardian when his family members couldn’t agree whether to remove him from life support.

Pickford interviewed family members and decided Jason would have wanted to end his life. He did not give an order to remove a feeding tube that is providing Jason with food and water.

Katrina and Jason’s father Jerry say they have videotaped Jason raising his finger when asked to do so if he wanted to remain alive.

"Jason has raised his finger several days in a row and several times a day," Katrina said. Katrina indicated Jason would have told his brother or father if he wanted to be removed from life support in a situation such as this — and he did not.

Katrina also told LifeNews.com that she has been in touch with Bob Schindler, Terri Schiavo’s father. Schindler provided Jerry and Katrina with encouragement and support, as well as some advice on how to help Jason.

"It really helps when you have someone that is in a similar situation and you can share your do’s and don’t experiences to help each other along this long road," Childress said.

Jason’s 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.

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.