Baby Survives Euthanasia Bid, China Hospital Blamed for "Saving Money"

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Apr 17, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Baby Survives Euthanasia Bid, China Hospital Blamed for "Saving Money"

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by Steven Ertelt Editor
April 17, 2006

Shanghai, China ( — A Chinese hospital is coming under fire for euthanizing a baby in an attempt to save money. The baby survived being taken off life support after doctors declared there was no more hope, but was left blind and brain damaged as a result.

The parents of the baby have filed a claim against Third People’s Hospital, affiliated with Shanghai Jiaotong University and Children’s Hospital of FuDan University for $875,000 both botched several medical procedures.

The baby, named Qiqi, was born in March 2003. His parents had just moved to Shanghai to open up a clothing store.

Tang Jinali, an attorney for the parents, says the hospital deliberately tried to kill the baby in order to save money.

He told Interfax that attitude is commonplace in China and how the overpopulated nation treats elderly residents as well.

"It is not surprising that some hospitals persuade families of senior citizens to give up medical treatments due to slim chance of survival among some of our cases," Tang said.

Mainichi Daily News reports the lawsuit is the first to be filed against a hospital in China for ending the life of a baby doctors declared to be terminally ill.

Yu Dejun, the baby’s father, told the newspaper he and his family have spent more than $25,000 on medical care for the child.

Yu indicated that last September is family began to notice the baby had medical problems resulting from the mistreatment at the hospital.

"We didn’t realize the extent of the baby’s problems until one of my friends saw a TV program and realized my baby had similar symptoms to those discussed on TV," he told MDN. The baby has problems talking and seeing.

Yu’s wife was pregnant with Qiqi when doctors told them the baby had a low heart rate.

"Normally, if the baby’s FHR is low, the mother should give birth as soon as possible," Tang said, "But the hospital delayed for more than ten hours, and the delay deprived the baby’s brain of sufficient blood and oxygen."

"But the hospital said the woman should give birth naturally," Tang said, "Not until the evening, at half past eight, was the child born via cesarean section."

Qiqi later experienced breathing problems but his parents couldn’t get any hospital works to come and check on the infant. They transferred the Qiqi to another hospital and also ran into problems of hospital staff refusing to care for the child.

Yu said Children’s hospital eventually persuaded he and his wife to take the baby off of life support — saying Qiqi would die soon.

He said the hospital talked him into it saying it would help the family save money on medical bills. Reluctantly, the couple signed the form and Qiqi’s life support was removed.

They left the hospital and were told Qiqi would die within 20 minutes. But they received a phone call the next morning saying their baby was alive. They didn’t realize the harm that had been done to Qiqi until only recently.

Tang Jianli told MDN that the hospital’s treatment was evidence of a pro-euthanasia attitude.

"The erroneous treatment carried out by the hospitals, I think, can be mostly attributed to their money-pursing principles," he said.

"It is a typical case, now hospitals neglect the basic right of life in the interests of pursuing money," Tang said, "and this case, I hope, can make the hospitals think again, and serve the public’s interest."