As Terri Schiavo Begins to Die, Jason Childress Continues to Live

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

As Terri Schiavo Begins to Die, Jason Childress Continues to Live

by Steven Ertelt Editor
October 16, 2003

Charlottesville, VA ( — As Terri Schiavo begins what may be the last days of her life, another patient who has been given up for dead by some family members continues to live.

In an exclusive interview with, Katrina Childress, Jason Childress’ stepmother, says Jason continues to breathe on his own over a month since a he was removed from a ventilator.

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.

A retired local judge was appointed as his guardian after family members couldn’t decide whether to allow Jason to remain on a ventilator. His father and stepmother, Jerry and Katrina Childress, wanted Jason’s care to continue. The guardian approved removal of the ventilator on September 11.

"Jason is opening his eyes more and following some commands," Katrina told "He is being dressed in his own clothes and sitting in a [geriatric] chair everyday."

Katrina said that while Jason’s care has improved, he is still not getting the complete medical treatment she and Jerry desire.

"I would like to see a new neurological exam done, along with an MRI and several other tests that were never done. That would give us a better idea of the extent of the damage and see if anything has changed in these several months," she explained.

Jason does not currently have a neurologist assigned to him.

He was moved to a nursing home in late September. Jerry and Katrina would like to find a grant to allow Jason to be moved to Retreat Hospital in Richmond, Virginia. The hospital has a specialized program for patients in comas.

Katrina tells other family members have not changed their minds about Jason’s care.

"Jerry and I are still being criticized by them saying we are selfish wanting him to live this way. They need to open their eyes and see that it is Jason’s will to live and God’s plan for Jason that has kept him alive," she said.

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

Unlike Terri Schiavo, Jason is receiving a limited amount of physical therapy, but Katrina says she would like to see more rehabilitative care.

"He is only getting physical therapy (range of motion) and the activities director works with him 3 days a week.  This boy desperately needs sub-acute rehab and coma responsiveness therapy," Katrina said.

Katrina told she has been following the case of Terri Schiavo and says she is very "frustrated" by it.

"It’s so hard to think of starving someone to death. Someone really should be held responsible for not letting that lady get the proper rehab. How can we keep denying these young people with disabilities inadequate rehab? I’m simply amazed at how
far she progressed on her own without the proper rehab — that let’s me know that her parents have worked very hard with her," Katrina concluded.