Ethics Consult: Who Decides if Child Is ‘Dead?’

Welcome to Ethics Seek the advice of — a possibility to debate, debate (respectfully), and study collectively. We choose an moral dilemma from a real, however anonymized, affected person care case. You vote in your choice within the case and, subsequent week, we’ll reveal the way you all made the decision. Bioethicist Jacob M. Appel, MD, JD, may even weigh in with an moral framework that can assist you study and put together.
The next case is customized from Appel’s 2019 guide, Who Says You’re Dead? Medical & Ethical Dilemmas for the Curious & Concerned.
Enoch is a 5-year-old Mennonite boy with a terminal mind tumor. He’s a affected person at a small hospital in his rural group. As his situation deteriorates, he’s positioned on a ventilator, and he quickly loses consciousness. Ultimately, his docs conduct a collection of electroencephalograms and conclude that his mind operate has fully ceased. Beneath state legislation, Enoch is now lifeless.
Enoch’s mother and father, Jared and Susanna, don’t imagine in mind demise. In line with their traditions, an individual will not be lifeless so long as the guts continues to be beating. “Beneath your guidelines, he could also be lifeless,” mentioned Jared. “To my household, he’s very a lot alive.” They insist that the docs care for his or her baby indefinitely. When the hospital refuses, they increase cash of their group to buy a ventilator in order that they’ll take care of Enoch in their very own lounge.

Jacob M. Appel, MD, JD, is director of ethics schooling in psychiatry and a member of the institutional overview board on the Icahn College of Drugs at Mount Sinai in New York Metropolis. He holds an MD from Columbia College, a JD from Harvard Legislation College, and a bioethics MA from Albany Medical Faculty.
Take a look at a few of our previous Ethics Seek the advice of instances:
Allow Co-Ed Hospital Room?
Let Patient Pray Pneumonia Away?
Perform Involuntary C-Section on Model?