Wednesday, June 9, 2010

New Case - Brianna Manns v. University of Illinois


On March 31, 2010, Brianna Manns gave birth to twin boys.  Unfortunately, the twins are conjoined in a way such that they cannot be separated.  They share one malformed heart but are not candidates for a heart transplant because of their complicated anatomy.  They cannot breathe without a ventilator and are fed through tubes. Periodically, the babies go into distress and must be resuscitated to prevent them from dying.  (Chicago Tribune)

The process has been agonizing for doctors and nurses at the University of Illinois Medical Center, some of whom worry that their interventions might be going too far. They don't want the babies to suffer.  "We empathize with her, but as health care providers, knowing what we know, we don't want to see the babies die in an agonizing way," said neonatologist Dr. Helen Kusi. "That's where we are not on the same page with her. We haven't given up, but we have to face reality."

Manns has declined to sign a do-not-resuscitate order, saying that she wants to give her children every chance at survival. "There must be a reason why I have special babies like this," she said.  "At the end of the day, it's God's say-so. . . .  I believe in God 100 percent. Yes, the machines are man-made.  But God gave them those machines as well. Everything goes back to God."

This is a terrible situation, the resolution of which will be emotionally and ethically difficult.  Nevertheless, this is a comparatively easier sort of futility case in that it can be determined on largely objective "best interests" grounds.  Unlike Samuel Golubchuk, for example, the babies have no subjective preference, much less a religious interest at stake.



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