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Covid Death in Texas

This article is published by BioEdge and is shared with permission via Creative Commons License for non commercial use. My thoughts will follow at the end of the article.

Covid-19 death in Texas offers a dramatic demonstration of the opposite poles in end-of-life care.

Michael Hickson was a husband and father of five children and reasonably healthy until 2017, when he suffered permanent brain damage after a heart attack. He became a quadriplegic in need of continuous medical care. On May 15 he tested positive for Covid-19 and ended up in intensive care in an Austin hospital. On June 5 his wife had a conversation with an ICU doctor — which was recorded by one of her friends, and posted to YouTube with a transcription. It is disturbing.

The doctor told Mrs. Hickson that further care for her husband was futile and that, against her wishes, Mr Hickson would not be nourished, hydrated, or receive treatment for pneumonia.

“So as of right now, his quality of life — he doesn’t have much of one,” the doctor said.

“What do you mean? Because he’s paralyzed with a brain injury, he doesn’t have quality of life?” she responded.

“Correct,” the doctor replied.

Mrs Hickson asks who decides whether quality of life is not good. The doctor responds that it’s definitely not him, but the answer to the question about whether more treatment would improve his quality of life was no.

She asks, “Being able to live isn’t improving the quality of life?” He counters with the picture of Mr. Hickson being intubated for more than two weeks. But Mrs. Hickson also gets him to admit that he knows of three people who went through that ordeal and survived. She tells him that her 90-year-old uncle with cancer got Covid-19 and survived.

His response to this was less than tactful: “Well, I’m going to go with the data, I don’t go with stories, because stories don’t help me, OK?” Toward the end of the conversation, he says, “we are going to do what we feel is best for him along with the state and this is what we decided.”

On the following day, Mr. Hickson was moved to hospice care. According to Mrs. Hickson, there they “withdrew food, fluid, and any type of medical treatment” from him, and he died on June 11.

“He regained his personality, had memories of past events, loved to do math calculations, and answer trivia questions,” Mrs. Hickson said in an interview with The Texan. “Why are disabled people considered to have a poor quality of life?”

“This is not isolated,” Kimberlyn Schwartz, Texas Right to Life’s Director of Media and Communication, told The Texan. “Quality of life is a value judgment and is a decision that should be left to the family. This horrible ‘quality of life’ ethic is ingrained in many of our large medical institutions and patients and families need to be vigilant.”

Michael Cook, publisher of BioEdge.

What is Futile Care?

I have written before on every hospital having a futile care policy and your right to ask for it and read it. University of Michigans was published on line and I have a copy of it.

To require a hospital, health facility or agency that maintains a written policy that encourages or allows a health care professional to withhold or discontinue treatment on the grounds of “medical futility,” and applies this policy to the treatment of minors, to provide a copy of the policy to the patient, parent or legal guardian upon request.

“The termination of treatment, including life support systems, does not require documentation of death. In appropriate cases, the attending physician may terminate treatment or preclude some or all future treatment with an appropriate written order when the patient is not dead. Cessation of treatment of a patient declared dead does not require specific orders or procedures, nor does it require family consent.” (excerpt from U of M policy)

At this point, several important points need to be made about futile care:

1. Futility is not a medical determination; it is a value judgment. Treatment is refused based on “quality of life” judgmentalism and/or “cost-benefit” analysis.

2. Futility makes patient autonomy a one-way street. For years, we have been told that patients should state in writing what they want or don’t want in the event they become incapacitated. Futile Care Theory makes refusing treatment binding for patients who want to die, but allows doctors/bioethicists the final say over the care of patients who expressed a desire to live.

3. Futility strips from patients and families the power to make medicine’s most important health care decisions and give it to strangers: 

4. Futile Care Theory is only the first step toward a coming duty to die. Think of Futile Care Theory as ad hoc health care rationing. Once Obamacare is up and running, centralized boards will create cost-benefit bureaucratic boards that could systemize Futile Care Theory into mandatory refusals or outright health care rationing based on patients’ quality of life. Indeed, rationing has repeatedly been endorsed by notable publications such as The New England Journal of Medicine and The New York Times.

Moreover, if doctors want a patient to die sooner rather than later, they should bear the strong burden of proof in order to prevail. After all, the point of Futile Care Theory is to impose a form of the death penalty. When in doubt, every benefit of doubt belongs to wanted life. John Wesley Smith in 2012. Source

Do you know what the hospitals policy is where you live?

If not, why not? Don’t you want to know how your loved one would be treated if they were admitted to a hospital with a serious injury or Covid Diagnosis?

I’ll leave you with a few other things to ponder….Michael Hickson was a Black man. Would it be great if BLM advocated for this man.

Michael Hickson was disabled. What is the National Council of Disability doing besides writing a letter on how shocked and sadden they were?

Video recorded of Michael Hickson wife and Doctor concerning “quality of life” Recorded by a friend.

Praying for his wife and 5 children.

Where There’s Life, There’s Hope

Source: Ben Carson Voices Support for Deliberately Starving and Dehydrating Brain-Injured Patients – Terri Schiavo Life & Hope Network

Dr. Ben Carson owes pro-life and medically vulnerable Americans an apology. Similarly, any pro-lifer supporting his campaign should take another look at the candidate’s values.

Speaking to reporters at a Florida Republican Party conference on Friday, November 13, Dr. Carson marginalized Terri Schiavo and other struggling and medically vulnerable patients.

Terri Schiavo, who died on March 31, 2005 from starvation and dehydration, was brain injured but otherwise healthy woman who was not reliant on life support. Michael Schiavo, her estranged husband and guardian, had led a national court case to remove her feeding tube—a means of nourishment which millions of patients rely on every day—in order to end her life almost a decade after warehousing her in a nursing home and suspending rehabilitative care.

When asked by a reporter whether he believed Terri Schiavo deserved Congress’s attempt to halt her court-ordered 13-day death by starvation and dehydration, Dr. Carson blithely responded, “I don’t think it needed to get to that level. I think it was much ado about nothing.”

Dr. Carson continued: “We face those kinds of issues all the time, and while I don’t believe in euthanasia, you have to recognize that people that are in that condition do have a series of medical problems that occur that will take them out,” explaining that “your job [as a doctor] is to keep them comfortable throughout that process and not to treat everything that comes up.

Dr. Carson’s advice to doctors “not to treat” brain injured patients is precisely the form of euthanasia that led to the suspension of Schiavo’s rehabilitation and ultimately her court-ordered death.

According to Tom Shakely, executive director of the Terri Schiavo Life & Hope Network:

“Traumatically brain injured patients need intensive rehabilitative care, period. Every day, shocked Americans learn they will have to fight their own doctors and medical providers just to afford their loved ones a shot at recovery in the face of a system increasingly driven by cost-minded MBAs rather than caring MDs. For Dr. Carson to align himself with the bureaucrats is devastating.”

“I don’t want to be on a breathing machine?”

Ventilator How many times have you heard people say that? Yet everyday people are injured in accidents, and need the help of a ventilator or breathing machine to help them breath if they are severely injured.

When you have a loved one, involved in an accident your emotions are all over the place. You are confused, anxious,scared,distraught, numb and in shock. All of a sudden you are hearing big, medical words that you don’t have any clue what they mean from doctors and nurses caring for your loved one.

Trying to discover the meaning of what they are saying is like learning a foreign language.

I remember the first house my husband and I bought in Auburn, Alabama, we had no clue what all the terms meant, or what we were signing. Terms like,  EMD (earnest money deposit) points,escrow,settlement were foreign to us. Now they are second nature to me having been an Ann Arbor Realtor for 18 years.

Seeing your family member on a ventilator can be frightening. But, it doesn’t have to be if you understand what it means and how it is aiding in your loved ones recovery. On my quest to understand “brain death” after my son’s car accident, I learned about ventilators and why the common term breathing machine is misunderstood.


1) The ventilator is a machine that moves air and oxygen into the body.

2) Being on a ventilator is a good thing when you are seriously injured.

3) Being on a ventilator that is effective at supporting the vital activity of respiration means that you are not dead.  A dead person does not breathe OR HAVE RESPIRATION.

A ventilator uses pressure to blow air or a mixture of gases (like oxygen and air) into the lungs. This pressure is known as positive pressure. You MUST exhale (breathe out) the air on your own.

Ventilation is the movement of air, while respiration is the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide. This exchange occurs in the lungs, as well as in the living tissues throughout the body via the circulation. Ventilation and respiration are essential requirements for life on earth to continue. Respiration in the lungs takes oxygen out of the air to be used by the body in exchange for carbon dioxide exhaled out of the body into the air.

Life Support graph One critical thing to know about being on ventilation is that the ventilator does not cause you to respire. Respiration is being done by the patient. A dead person can not respire. If you encounter this situation don’t be afraid. The ventilator is helping your loved one…it is a good thing…it is helping them complete the whole cycle of breathing.

It is helping preserve the life of your love one.

Dr. Paul Byrne in this article, “In other words, a ventilator moves air; it does not and cannot cause the other part of breathing–respiration; that is, it does not and it cannot exchange oxygen and carbon dioxide that occurs in lungs and body tissues. Respiration can occur only when the body’s respiratory and circulatory systems are otherwise intact and functioning properly.Respiration is human function, not machine function.”

The ventilator is helping the patient to breathe easier thus allowing them time to recover. It is important to understand what is happening if you have a loved one on a breathing machine so you are not frightened and can grasp that if your loved one was truly dead it would not work. I wish I had understood what was really occurring while Jamie was on the Ventilator. 

My questions for you are:

1) Do you think it is morally permissible to disconnect the ventilator?

2) Who should be making that decision?  You via a written life directive, your family,or the doctors?

Let me know your thoughts in the comments, no right or wrong answer just curious.




***I’ll be linking to this post throughout different posts so you can remember why being on a ventilator is important.***

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