By Dave Andrusko
In an abrupt, unexpected, and surprise decision, a Los Angeles Superior Court judge Thursday dissolved an injunction that prevented a local hospital from turning off 2-year-old Israel Stinson’s ventilator.
The adorable little boy, whose brain-dead diagnosis was fought on two continents by his parents, died shortly afterwards.
“They are devastated. I think still in shock,” family attorney Alexandra Snyder told reporters. “It’s not even my child; I am still in shock this could happen so quickly.”
Snyder is shocked by a judge’s decision because just last week the court gave her a temporary order to stop the hospital from removing the ventilator so they could get an opinion from another neurologist.
Many reporters have covered this tragic situation which is eerily similar to Jahi McMath, also diagnosed as brain-dead, whose mother moved her out of California when doctors refused to treat her daughter and who is alive today two and one-half years later.
The most complete account appeared in today’s Washington Post
It all started last April, reports Michael E. Miller, “with an asthma attack.”
Israel Stinson was an adorable toddler with a sweet smile and unruly hair. But on April 1, he began having trouble breathing. After he was taken to a northern California hospital, the unthinkable happened: Israel suffered a heart attack. After 40 minutes of CPR, doctors were able to restart his heart. But nearly an hour without oxygen had left him brain dead, they determined.
That’s when the battle began.
In those nearly four months, the family had pulled out all the legal stops and moved Israel to Guatemala on May 22 just before Israel was to be taken off the ventilator. There, Snyder told the Post,
three Guatemalan doctors, including a neurologist, declared that the boy was not brain dead after all.
That diagnosis was based in part on EEG, or electroencephalogram, tests, used to measure electrical activity in the brain, she said.
Snyder declined to name the Guatemalan doctors or their hospital but dismissed the idea that their opinion weighed less than that of American doctors.
“We’re not talking voodoo here,” she told The Post. “They have access to the same equipment as American doctors. Many of them probably have degrees from American medical schools.”
Some three months later they returned to the United States, Miller wrote because, “Despite the pending death certificate, and possibly because of the EEG tests from Guatemala, he had been accepted as a patient at Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles.”
But, within days,
the new hospital also moved to take the boy off life support. Once again, the family sought an injunction. And on Aug. 11, they received a temporary restraining order blocking the hospital from taking Israel off his ventilator.
Then, on Thursday, came a final, sudden twist in the international medical saga.
A Los Angeles Superior Court judge removed the restraining order, saying the case had already been decided at state and federal level before the family traveled to Guatemala.
And with that, doctors turned off Israel’s ventilator.
“I heard them disconnect the ventilator and then heard, of course, a very grieving mother,” said Snyder, who was on the phone with Fonseca at the time.
Snyder told the Post, “What I really don’t understand is why this hospital agreed to take this little boy in the first place,” adding
the boy’s parents never would have brought Israel back to the United States if they had known the hospital was going to pull the plug. “They knew exactly what his condition was, what his treatment was, and they agreed to take him. But it appears they only accepted him as a patient to put him to death. …
“The irony is this little boy was cared for so much better in Guatemala than he was here,” she added.