Boy in Coma Starts Breathing After Doctors Declare Him “Brain Dead,” Try to Remove Life Support

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Feb 6, 2015   |   5:15PM   |   Corpus Christi, Texas

In another case that reminds the pro-life movement of how some doctors are too hasty to declare patients too far gone, a 12-year-old boy in Texas who was in a coma has started breathing on his own again after doctors declared him “brain dead” and tried to remove his life support.

Following a severe asthma attack on January 14, doctors at Driscoll Children’s Hospital in Corpus Christi revived Joey Cronin but informed his parents they thought he had little hope to survive. Because of that, doctors refused to provide Joey with appropriate lifesaving medical treatment and Cronin’s family had to take his case to court to compel them to do so.

“They told us a lot of things that night, you know, that he was not going to be able to make it through this event,” Joey’s father George Cronin said, according to a World magazine report. “On the night he came in, they told me it could be a matter of hours before they would have to [remove Joey from life support].”


The report indicates Joey eventually showed signs of life by opening his eyes and grabbing his parents hands and responding to external stimulus tests.

But then Joey showed signs of life: opening his eyes, grabbing his parents’ hands, and responding to external stimulus tests. The hospital put Joey on a ventilator to help him breath, but did not give him a feeding tube. A little over a week after being hospitalized, Joey slipped into a coma. His dad said one day he was grabbing their hands and the next day he wasn’t.

Last week, the hospital decided to proceed with a brain scan to see if Joey had any brain activity. The test uses radioactive material to image blood flow to the brain and measure brain waves. But one doctor expressed doubt about whether the test would accurately measure activity, given Joey’s swollen brain. His parents feared the hospital would use the test to declare Joey “brain dead,” a diagnosis that would allow doctors to obtain a death certificate and remove life-saving care.

George Cronin withdrew his permission before the test, scheduled for Friday, and doctors said they would delay the procedure temporarily. The Cronins desperately worked to get Joey transferred to a hospital in Houston that said it would accept him.

“It’s a race for my son’s life,” Joey’s mother Susan said in an interview with Kiii News last week. “Will these transfers come through, or will the hospital run out of patience and move to declare him brain dead so that he can’t be transferred?”

Now, the pro-life legal group Alliance Defending Freedom has gotten involve and taken the ase on behalf of Joey’s parents. They helped the Cronin family obtain a court order requiring the hospital to maintain a feeding tube for Joey, so he is not starved and dehydrated to death. After reinserting the tube, Joey began chewing on it — showing additional signs of life.

After a tracheostomy, the youngster is now breathing on his own.

The family recounted the tragic tale of when they thought they were initially losing Joey:

“He said, ‘Mommy, my eyes are getting blurry. My eyes are getting blurry. I can’t see you anymore,” and then he looked up at the ceiling, he reached up his hand and said, “I see you, God. I see you.” And that’s when he lost consciousness,” Cronin said.

After the asthma attack two weeks ago, Driscoll Children’s Hospital doctors did everything they could to revive him. Despite some signs of brain activity a week ago, the hospital had planned to perform more tests on Friday to determine if the boy was legally brain dead.

The transfer to a Houston-area hospital is progressing, but the best news of all is that Joseph is showing signs of life in his hospital bed. Cronin said doctors told her that Joseph has been chewing on his breathing tube, which is a very good sign.