December 4, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – Chris Dunn is praying for his life, as the “faith-based” medical center currently treating him is taking extraordinary means to cut off care.
Houston Methodist Hospital is seeking to strip the 46-year-old's mother of legal custody, so it can deny her son life-sustaining medical treatment, Texas Right to Life announced.
David Christopher Dunn, who goes by Chris, has been hospitalized for about seven weeks after he began spitting up blood due to an undefined internal issue possibly related to his pancreas. He is on a breathing tube and receives heavy sedation.
But a video shows him alert and able to respond to questions – even to plead for his life.
Because of his medicated state his mother, Evelyn, exercises power of attorney on his behalf. Both she and her son want to fight for his chance to survive.
But the staff of Houston Methodist decided that providing Dunn with further treatment would be ineffective and have invoked a state law allowing them to remove his ventilation tube, effectively ending his life – even if it is done over the patient's objections.
“Chris is an American hero, who has served his community and the nation as an EMT, a police dispatcher, a Harris County Sheriff, and a Homeland Security employee. Chris even fought Somali pirates as part of a security team,” Texas Right to Life, which is assisting the family in the case, said. “Rather than protecting Chris’s right to life, the state of Texas is rewarding his lifetime of selfless service by relinquishing him to a hospital panel, who have judged his quality of life too low to merit continued treatment.”
The Texas Advanced Directives Act allows hospitals to withdraw all life-sustaining treatment after giving the patients 10 days notice. Hospitals that deem a patient's treatment futile may also impose a Do Not Resuscitate order on the patient, even if doing so contradicts his express wishes or those of his family.
That makes Texas more liberal than New York state, which requires a patient's consent before ending critical end-of-life care.
In November, the hospital sent Evelyn a letter stating its intention to end care in 10 days, sending the family scurrying to find a hospital that would place Chris, who has no medical insurance, in its intensive care unit. So far, the search has been unsuccessful.
Rather than give up, his mother turned to legal counsel. In a video just posted to YouTube, Chris nods his head affirmatively when Evelyn asks for his consent to hire lawyers to help him continue receiving care.
One of the two lawyers hired to help his case – former Texas State Representative Joe Nixon – says, “Chris, we're trying to make sure the hospital continues giving you good care. Do you want to stay alive?”
Dunn joins his hands in prayer, pleading for his life.
He then nodded, agreeing to be legally represented by Nixon and his fellow attorney Trey Trainor, who called the hospital's ethics committee a “death panel.”
Since the November letter, a local judge in Houston has granted the family a two-week extension. A second two-week extension was granted on Thursday.
However, the hospital sought to wrestle legal custody of Dunn away from his mother, ending their legal battle to deny him care, according to Texas Right to Life.
“Since Evelyn would not succumb to pressure from the hospital to impose death upon Chris, Methodist’s lawyers are now trying to remove Evelyn from Chris’s bedside and from his medical care,” the group said after the court proceeding. “The hospital is attempting to neutralize her ability to protect the life of her 40-something-year-old son.”
The hospital cited its faith and values in standing by its decision to end Dunn's care. “Houston Methodist is a faith-based, values-centered organization that strives to make the best choices for all our patients,” the hospital said in a statement. “End-of-life decisions are never easy, but Texas law is clear about our hospital's responsibility in these cases.”
The family has 13 days left to find a hospital willing to treat Dunn before the present extension ends.
Houston Methodist Hospital
Dr. Marc L. Boom, President and CEO
6565 Fannin Street
Houston, TX 77030