Tuesday :: May 3, 2005

And Where Are They Now?

by pessimist
"If you saw our daughter, you'd know why we have hope," said [the mother]. "She's fully aware she opens her eyes when we enter the room and makes facial expressions, like moving her eyebrows or pouting. She's a trouper."

No, this isn't a rehash of the Terri Schiavo fiasco, although there's no good reason why it shouldn't be. It is instead a glaring example of how the Radical Republican Religious are nothing more than a bunch of parasitic opportunists who will use anyone they consider valuable to their cause while ignoring those who aren't so valuable, especially when the person in question isn't wealthy.

As if to scream loudly that the platform of the Radical Republican Religious is totally wrong for America, a couple of cases in states formerly or currently under the inept control of governors named Bu$h demonstrate that some of the most basic premises of this platform are pure hypocrisy. What else can you say about a group of people who would fight against allowing a 13-year-old girl to have an abortion while allowing a baby already born to have her life ended by hospital administrators who have decided that her prognosis is futile?

In Houston's latest end-of-life controversy, Memorial Hermann Hospital has decided to remove from life support a 6-month-old girl whose leukemia has spread to her brain.

The parents of Knya Dismuke-Howard, who also has multiple-organ failure and a life-threatening antibiotic-resistant infection, vowed to fight the decision. Under Texas law, they have eight days remaining to find another facility to take her.

"I think she can beat the odds," said Tamiko Dismuke, the baby's mother. "She's a fighter. The hospital's given up on her, but everyone who's witnessed her through this has been amazed at how she keeps coming back."

Does this not sound like Mrs. Schindler, Terri Schiavo's mother?

Where are the 'right-to-lifers' now? Why are they not holding prayer vigils and protesting about how valuable all life is? Why are they not going to court to block this 'execution'? [see here and here and here and here for examples of this hypocritical extremist verbiage]

Personally, I suspect that as long as some individual, for example the patient's husband, bases a decision to end his wife's life on the best medical evidence available, that is evil and a sin, and they will be out in the streets in droves.

But in Texas, that isn't happening, because it isn't the family that is seeking termination. It is the hospital:

The case is the third in Houston this spring to publicly test a 1999 state law that allows hospitals to discontinue treatment in futile cases 10 days after notifying loved ones of their intentions.

We already know that the Radical Republican Religious are preconditioned to accept without question or dispute the ruling of a higher authority. In their minds, though, it appears that the status of The State (as governed by Republicans) ranks right up there under that of The Supreme Being Himself! Just because some group of doctors who work for an authoritarian organization like a hospital decide that a baby's life isn't worth saving, then it's OK to end her life, while if it were her mother that made the decision based on the opinions of these doctors that wouldn't be OK???

Is it just me, or is there really some disparity here?

Let's look at the medical evidence being presented in defense of the hospital's position:

Knya Dismuke-Howard's case dates to early December, when Memorial Hermann diagnosed the then 5-week-old with leukemia, the most common cancer in older children but extremely rare in infants. Infant patients tolerate chemotherapy reasonably well, as long as the dosage is adjusted for their size, said an M.D. Anderson doctor. (She received treatment at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center but shuttled back and forth to Memorial Hermann because M.D. Anderson's intensive care unit only accepts children 3 and older.)

The survival rate for infant leukemia is 50 percent, but it drops to 5 percent if the patient relapses, and significantly less than that once complications occur. In the last month, Knya Dismuke-Howard's leukemia relapsed and complications set in, such as the brain tumor, bacteria-resistant infection and multiple-organ failure. Her white blood cell count dropped to zero.

Memorial Hermann's ethics committee met Thursday and decided further care would be futile. They plan to discontinue treatment except for pain relief May 8. "Knya's story is a sad one for everyone who cares for her," Memorial Hermann said in a statement. "The committee has determined that curative treatment is no longer appropriate given the specific facts of the case."

Dismuke said she wasn't surprised by the decision, hospital officials having emphasized the case was "a long shot the whole time." But busy searching the Internet and asking people for referrals in hopes of finding another facility, she said she hasn't given up. Dismuke said the family hasn't hired a lawyer or decided to take legal action but may still do so. She said their first priority is finding a hospital to take her.

It doesn't look like that is going to happen:

The Fix Is In

Memorial Hermann officials said other pediatric hospitals they consulted concurred with their treatment plan and decision to discontinue care. They said the infant, who is on a respirator, is suffering badly she is on morphine and other opiates to relieve pain and described her condition as hopeless.

I'm no doctor, but based on this evidence, I would have to lean toward letting this child go, as I would have let Terri Schiavo go if she were my spouse. I luckily have never had to make that decision, but I work with some who have, including one who lost a five-year-old daughter to leukemia. In no case did anyone of these people attempt to push against hope when it was clear that there was none.

Happy Mother's Day, Tamiko

Tamiko Dismuke has my sincere sympathy for her pending loss, designated by this medical ethics committee to begin on Mother's Day - a little factoid they just might have overlooked.

My issue, however, is neither with the mother for understandably wanting to save her child from death, nor the doctors who no longer see any hope for further treatment. My gripe is that the Radical Republican Religious are so silent in a case which has marked similarities to that of Terri Schiavo's.

Their silence is the evidence of their hypocrisy.

I just wish that more could hear that thundering silence - and know what it represents. It represents that, in their 'Christian' minds, some of us are more important than others.

I don't remember Jesus - the venerated personage of their faith - ever making any such distinction.

So much for these people being 'Christians'. So much for them having 'values'.

Copyrighted source material contained in this article is presented under the provisions of Fair Use.


This article contains copyrighted material, the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. I am making such material available in my efforts to advance understanding of democracy, economic, environmental, human rights, political, scientific, and social justice issues, among others. I believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material in this article is distributed without profit for research and educational purposes.

pessimist :: 11:52 AM :: Comments (5) :: Digg It!