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Saturday, March 11, 2006

Haleigh Poutre Swallowing Food

It might seem odd to stress this, but it is so important and so essential that the public hears that Haleigh is swallowing solid food. If Haleigh Poutre can swallow it will be much harder to dehydrate her to death legally. Terri Schiavo could swallow, and a policeman was stationed in her room by court order in order to prevent anyone from allowing her the chance to swallow a little life-sustaining liquid or food.

According to a nurse who works at the Franciscan Hospital for Children, Haleigh has been able to swallow scrambled egss and cream of wheat. She is still receiving nutrition through a feeding tube. The Boston Globe reported that the nurse was told to stop giving information about Haleigh's condition to her birth mother:
The Globe reported that DSS officials have told the nurse to stop telling Avrett details about Poutre's condition during her bi-weekly 15 minute visit with her.

''Silence and secrecy has been the most frustrating component of this case," Wendy Murphy, Avrett's mother, told the Globe. ''It just seems inhumane that information about this child can be forbidden on the theory that it's somehow protecting her privacy, when you consider that this child almost died under the state's care."
These types of restrictions on Haleigh's birth mother might seem inhumane and pointless, but they are not. As long as Haleigh is officially dependent on tube feedings, the state can still legally order her dehydrated and starved to death. Once she is officially eating on her own, they can't. And if anyone other than DSS ever gets custody of Haleigh, there is grounds for a lawsuit. And they'll win.

For more see The Republican. The birth mother has filed in court asking for more than 15 minute visits every other week, plus some say in Haleigh's medical treatment. See the Boston Globe.

And for the original Boston Globe article about the nurse's statements, go here:
A Department of Social Services worker, who was monitoring the 15-minute visit, has told the nurse to stop talking to the mother about the girl's condition, said Wendy Murphy, a Boston lawyer who represents Allison Avrett, who is Poutre's biological mother.
Murphy and Susan Molina, who is the executive director of The Yellow Ribbon Kids Club, a nonprofit group based in Whitman that advocates for foster children, said the girl has been able to use her hands to signal her wishes.

Earlier in February, Poutre held up two fingers to signal that she wanted to see her younger sister, her grandmother's second grandchild.
A piece of paper with the girl's name scrawled in pink and other markings hung near her hospital bed. Murphy said Avrett wants to know the significance of the work, and whether the girl can hold a pen, draw, or spell.
The commission to investigate the case got a two-week extension. DSS says it cannot talk about Haleigh's condition because it doesn't want to influence the outcome. Tra-la-la! In the Globe article, Haleigh is described as clinging to her mother's hands when she comes to visit.

At least one DSS-qualified foster family had volunteered to take Haleigh before she showed improvement. In previous unauthorized reports, Haleigh was reported as being able to answer yes and no questions by signs, such as identifying her name and answering that she was a girl. According to the head of DSS, when he visited her before her transfer, she was able to pick up specific stuffed animals on command. In multiple news reports, Haleigh was still described as being vegetative even after that was widely reported. Pamela Hennessey nails this one; the Right To Die crowd is intent upon killing off seriously disabled people.

In the brief filed by DSS asking for the right to dehydrate her to death, Haleigh was described as having the least amount of brain function that anyone could have and still be considered legally alive, plus having no hope for "a meaningful recovery." DSS originally filed for permission to dehydrate her to death eight days after she was admitted to the hospital. I know it was reported that Haleigh was on a ventilator, but the doctors knew she could breathe on her own, because the prediction quoted in the MA SC opinion was that Haleigh could probably survive off the ventilator for as long as two months if allowed food and water. That was why DSS wanted permission to dehydrate her to cause death.

The bizarre fact about this case is that plenty of medical information exists to confirm that those suffering from traumatic brain injuries have a better chance of recovery than those who are suffering from a degenerative disease or disorder, and children who have suffered a traumatic brain injury recover better than adults. Here's a 1998 study done for the purposes of predicting insurance settlements, which confirms yet again that recovery from PVS is hard to predict before six months, but that an awful lot of patients do manifest consciousness if they aren't killed. Note that those who do remain in a state diagnosed as PVS have dramatically shortened life spans.

The truth is that no one knows what will happen in these cases, and certainly it's impossible to know in 8 days. All of the news reporting and analysis conveniently ignored this fact. The original Multi-Society Task Force on PVS noted this, and nothing seems to have changed since then (see Practice Parameter summary from the American Academy of Neurology, and scroll down to the end for table 1. At 12 months, of children who suffered traumatic brain injury, 9% had died, 29% were still diagnosed as PVS, and 62% were conscious.). So why this rush to shuffle people off to the grave rather than letting nature take its course? Money.

I wonder if the Right to Die (TM) crowd has ever thought they might become seriously disabled someday -- by age, if nothing else.

Oh, I forgot. They KNOW they'll stay permanently young and healthy (and able to rut) forever -- they're Entitled Baby Boomers, and Entitled Baby Boomers NEVER die!
Well - it might also be an extension of their own fears. They look at someone and think "well, I wouldn't like to live like that". I guess they justify killing them as a sort of kindness.

The irony is that those who have experienced disability seem to find life quite worth living. And for those who don't, the legal provisions exist in every state to specify their wishes and have those wishes carried out. (Although the reverse is no longer true.)

But some of these people came of age during the era when everyone over 30 was considered a write-off, so that might be a factor.
But some of these people came of age during the era when everyone over 30 was considered a write-off, so that might be a factor.

I doubt that. As soon as they got well past 30, their dogma became "Don't trust anyone UNDER 30!" (Ask any Gen-Xer.) And now that Gen-X (the disposable practice kids) are old enough to write off, Gen-Y Millenials (the keeper Mini-Mes) are being taught to sit at the feet of their Elders and Absorb Their Great Wisdom with trembling lips.

Remember how war suddenly became "Healthy for Children and Other Growing Things" the instant Baby Boomers were no longer in danger of being drafted and sent to The 'Nam?

-- same "anonymous" as above
And then war promptly became a bad thing again when the Boomers realized the soldiers being sent off to war were THEIR KIDS.

"I don't give a fuck about the rest of the Armed Forces, but if MY son dies I'll never forgive you!"
i work at FHFC, and haleigh is nowhere near a vegetative state. she is a sweet girl... she shows emotions (laughing, crying, etc) she loves miley cyrus and loves to sing! she is eating all solid foods now and only needs to supplement some water for fluids. it kills me to think that her life was almost ended prematurely
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