Father Sues Keep His Daughter Alive, Hospital Threatens to Pull the Plug Without Consent

State   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Dec 7, 2015   |   6:22PM   |   Reno, NV

A Nevada father is in a legal battle with a hospital after doctors declared his 20-year-old daughter brain dead in May and tried to remove her from a ventilator.

The situation is the latest in a series of tragic cases between parents of children declared brain dead and hospitals trying to remove life support in the past few years. In the new case, Aden Hailu, a student at the University of Nevada, had exploratory surgery in April after experiencing abdominal pain, according to the Telegraph Times. During the surgery, she suffered brain damage from a lack of oxygen and never woke up from the anesthesia, reports state.

People reports that while doctors said her condition was “rapidly declining” in April, they also said she showed some eye response and arm movements. Early EEG tests showed that Hailu had some brain function; however, a later test showed that the signs of brain function no longer existed, the report states. On May 28, doctors labeled Hailu brain dead after determining that she could not breathe on her own without a ventilator, the report states.

Her father, Fanuel Gebreyes, is suing Saint Mary’s Regional Center to keep his daughter on life support, reports state. The family reportedly understands that the young woman’s condition is not good, but they are hanging onto hope that she could recover.

The Nevada Supreme Court recently heard the family’s case and ruled that a lower court judge erred in rejecting the family’s request to order the hospital to keep the young woman alive, according to People.

On Wednesday, the two sides argued whether Hailu is alive in front of a district court judge. The Telegraph Times reports more on the hearing:

William Peterson, lead lawyer for the hospital and its parent company Prime Healthcare Services, filed documents November 25 asking that the father be required to show why he won’t allow another EEG test.

He wants the judge to order her father to consent to another round of brain wave tests to determine if they satisfy the state’s criteria for clinical death.

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Aden Hailu is on life support at Saint Mary’s Regional Medical Center while the question of whether she is legally brain dead is resolved. Gebreyes has refused, instead insisting she be given thyroid medication and a tracheostomy so she can receive nutrition through her throat, not just fluids through an IV.

“Aden needs treatment, not tests of her brain,” he wrote in a November 20 letter to the hospital that he demanded be attached to her patient chart. Gebreyes declined to comment after the hearing. “The Nevada Supreme Court ruled… that Aden Hailu is alive.” His attorney said in a letter to the hospital that Gebreyes won’t allow brain tests until his daughter is given a tracheostomy, nutrition and thyroid medication. She remains alive with the assistance of a ventilator and feeding tube.

The hospital’s lawyer made a request to begin an evidentiary hearing the next day, but the judge rejected the request, according to People.

“It’s not shocking that Saint Mary’s wants to have this hearing in 24 hours,” David O’Mara, the family’s lawyer said, according to the AP. “Their whole purpose is to kill her as fast as they can so they don’t have to spend the money.”

In November, LifeNews reported a similarly tragic story of a 7-year-old from New York City who doctors also declared brain dead after a choking accident. Her family fought to keep the young girl on life support, but she died several days later.

However, another young girl, Jahi McMath, is still alive more than two years after a hospital declared her brain dead and her family fought to keep her alive. In November, the girl’s family celebrated her 15th birthday at her bedside at a New Jersey hospital and posted a series of pictures on her Facebook page.

In tragic cases like Hailu’s, families often fight for their children’s chance to recover, no matter how slim the chance or expensive the treatment. There are cases where individuals have lived and recovered because their families refused to give up on them.