January 19, 2006


Girl in vegetative state reported to improve: DSS says it has no plan to remove feeding tube (Patricia Wen, January 19, 2006, Boston Globe)

A day after the state's highest court ruled that the Department of Social Services could withdraw life support from a brain-damaged girl, the agency said yesterday that Haleigh Poutre might be emerging from her vegetative state.

DSS also said it has no immediate plans to remove her feeding tube.

''There has been a change in her condition," said a DSS spokeswoman, Denise Monteiro. ''The vegetative state may not be a total vegetative state."

Monteiro said Haleigh is breathing on her own, without the ventilator she has depended on for four months. Monteiro also said that doctors at Baystate Medical Center in Springfield elicited responses from Haleigh during tests performed yesterday. [...]

Monteiro said that doctors did not tell DSS, which has custody of Haleigh, that her condition had changed until yesterday afternoon. [...]

Last fall, doctors described Haleigh as being in a persistent vegetative state and ''virtually brain dead," district court records said. Physicians said her brain stem was severely injured, leaving her unable to think or feel and in an ''irreversible coma," according to an opinion Tuesday by the Supreme Judicial Court.

Many neurologists say it is rare for a patient with severe brain-stem injuries to fully recover from a persistent vegetative state that lasts for more than a month.

Jack Egan, a Springfield lawyer for the girl's stepfather, said yesterday's medical news confirms their view that DSS was too hasty in determining that Haleigh's condition was irreversible. He noted that DSS asked the courts to withdraw life support after Haleigh had been in the hospital for less than a month.

Oh well, at least the Death Cult got to Terri Schiavo before they could be stopped.

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 19, 2006 6:13 PM
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