Virginia family fights hospital to keep 2-year-old daughter on life support
RICHMOND, Virginia, May 27, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – The family of a Virginia toddler on life support is fighting for more time for their daughter to have a chance at recovery.
Patrick and Allison Lawson have gone to court to keep the Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) Health System from performing tests on two-year-old Mirranda Grace to determine her brain activity, in effect preventing the hospital from turning off her life support.
"The doctors wanted to give up on her in five days and she's still in there. We're fighting them tooth and nail,” Patrick Lawson told CBS 6.
Mirranda choked on a piece of popcorn May 11, running to her mom for help before collapsing. The little girl’s heart had stopped beating, and Allison Lawson performed CPR on her daughter until paramedics arrived and got it going again before rushing her to the hospital.
While doctors think there is irreversible damage, the family wants to give Mirranda more time for the possibility to get better.
"When I walk into the room and talk to her, her blood pressure goes up,” Patrick Lawson said, “until I come over and tell her everything's OK, that Daddy's just trying to keep her safe."
"All I'm asking for is for time for my baby to heal,” he continued. “The court, the doctors, the parents should decide it – but it should not just be a doctor that decides it."
A judge rescinded an emergency injunction to keep Mirranda on life support last Friday, giving VCU Medical Center the green light to perform tests to determine whether she is brain dead.
Doctor Doug Wilson, head of the VCU pediatric critical care unit, testified that Mirranda is unresponsive and has no signs of brain stem function, which controls breathing. Wilson also said that if two doctors find that the toddler is not breathing on her own, this would indicate no hope of her recovery.
Patrick Lawson has continued to refuse to allow the test, prompting VCU Medical Center to pursue a court order. Another hearing was scheduled for Thursday, however the hospital agreed to postpone it until next Tuesday.
VCU Medical Center released a statement:
VCU Health System is fully committed to the care of Mirranda Lawson and to assisting her parents and family. The child has been in the pediatric intensive care unit for more than two weeks, and the family continues to oppose medical tests that would help the child’s medical team ascertain her condition. Because of this, we have asked the court for its guidance in this very difficult situation. To assist in its deliberations, the court has appointed a guardian ad litem for an impartial assessment and recommendation regarding what is in the best interest of the child. VCU Health System will fully cooperate with the guardian ad litem’s assessment and any guidance provided by the court.
“If the judge rules in the hospital's favor, I'm going to have to believe that my baby's going to breathe, that we bought her enough time," Patrick Lawson said. "I know in my heart if the good lord wanted her he would've taken her already."
The subject of brain death continues to cause controversy, with families seeking more time either for a second opinion, or the opportunity for a child to recover, and with the specter in some instances of their being approached for organ procurement while brain function may still be in question. Further, numerous patients have been declared brain dead and later recovered.
A vigil was held Wednesday night for Mirranda, where the family expressed thanks for the support they are receiving.
“Thank you for these people showing up tonight that don’t even know me and my family but yet are praying for us,” Patrick Lawson said.
Theresa Shelton was among those at the hospital Wednesday night, and even though she had never met the Lawson family, she said that as a parent, the Lawsons are living her worst nightmare.
“Stop this fighting,” Shelton stated, according to ABC News-8. “This is simply a man asking for time, for God’s will. That is all this man is asking for. Every minute he has to go to go to court he takes away from his daughter.”
"Now he has to legally fight for that right to come to peace with God and his daughter and what may be before him," Shelton said.
Still, Patrick Lawson said he couldn’t condemn the hospital.
“They've done what they feel they need to do," he stated. "I'm just doing what I feel I have to do to give my daughter a fighting chance."
"Mirranda's not given up the fight, and her mommy and daddy have not given up the fight," Patrick Lawson said.
The family has set up a GoFundMe page for Mirranda.