Nevada Father Sues Hospital to Keep 20-Year-Old Daughter on Life Support: 'She is Alive and Fighting for Her Life'
A father is embroiled in a legal battle to force a Reno, Nevada hospital to keep his 20-year-old daughter on life support.
Fanuel Gebreyes’s attorney alleges that money is behind the hospital’s rush to pull the life life-support plug from his daughter, Aden Hailu, who was declared brain dead by doctors more than six months ago, the Associated Press reports.
A Washoe District Family Court Judge set two hearings to rehear evidence in the case after the Nevada Supreme Court ruled last month that a judge erred in rejecting the Hailu family’s request to order Saint Mary’s Regional Center to keep the young girl alive.
The two sides argued whether Hailu is in fact dead or alive during a status hearing on Wednesday. The judge rejected the hospital’s lawyer’s request to begin an evidentiary hearing the following day per the family’s lawyer’s objections.
“It’s not shocking that Saint Mary’s wants to have this hearing in 24 hours,” David O’Mara, the family’s lawyer said, according to the AP. “Their whole purpose is to kill her as fast as they can so they don’t have to spend the money.”
The legal battle to keep Hailu on life support has been ongoing since doctors declared her brain dead on May 28.
Hailu was hospitalized April 1 after complaining of abdominal pain. The University of Nevada, Reno freshman suffered low blood pressure and lack of oxygen to the brain during a surgery to remove her appendix and never woke up from anesthesia, according to court documents.
“According to her neurological diagnosis, she is in a persistent vegetative state and doctors assert that there is no chance of recovering her higher functions,” her cousin wrote on GoFundMe in April. “In a subtle way, we feel pressured to make a life ending decision but Aden is only twenty years old with no history of illness or family illness.”
In November, the state Supreme Court ruled that the hospital had failed to prove the American Association of Neurology’s brain-death guidelines are acceptable medical standards and comply with the state’s Determination of Death Act.
“The Supreme Court says Aden is alive on this day,” O’Mara said. “Saint Mary’s has not met the standard of brain dead.”
He added that the hospital “has the burden to treat her and if they won’t are required under law to find someone who will.”
The hospital’s lawyer wants to order Hailu’s father to consent to another round of brain wave tests to determine if the young woman is clinically dead by the state’s criteria.
“Aden needs treatment, not tests on her brain,” Gebreyes wrote in a November 20 letter to the hospital. The Nevada Supreme Court ruled that Aden Hailu is alive.
Saint Mary’s doctors said three electroencephalogram (EEG) tests that were conducted in early April showed brain function, adding that no further EEG tests were performed after that.
The hospital said its director or neurology and stroke determined Hailu’s condition to be “rapidly declining” on April 13. However, she was not brain dead on that day as she still showed some indications of brain function, including minimal eye response and movement of the arms with stimulation. On April 14, the same doctor indicated the signs of brain function observed the previous day no longer existed, according to court documents.
The hospital’s lawyer said new tests are needed to meet the state Supreme Court’s interpretation of the law.
The family’s lawyer told reporters that Hailu’s condition is “obviously not the best.” Adding that her family still believes there is hope for recovery.
“She is alive and she is fighting for her life,” he said. “If she doesn’t receive treatment she will start deteriorating.”
A GoFundMe page has been set up to help Hailu’s family with medical and legal costs.