Federal judge refuses to grant temporary restraining order to save life of “Little Emilio” in Texas
Hospital plans to cease boy’s treatments on April 10; federal judge to take matter under advisement, state court judge to hear case Tuesday
AUSTIN, Texas — A federal judge decided Wednesday not to grant a temporary restraining order filed by an Alliance Defense Fund allied attorney which would have allowed a toddler to continue to receive medical treatment while his case moves forward in court. The judge did, however, say he will take the matter under advisement pending the outcome of the state court hearing set for Tuesday. In March, an “ethics” committee at the Children’s Hospital of Austin deemed the child’s life “futile” and voted to end his treatments. Without the treatments, the boy, named Emilio, will likely die in a matter of hours.
“The Children’s Hospital of Austin should do the right thing, and that is to make sure little Emilio gets the treatment he needs to live,” said Joshua Carden, the ADF-allied attorney working on the case, Gonzales v. Children’s Hospital of Austin, along with lead counsel Jerri Ward. “Instead, the hospital has betrayed this little boy by subjecting him to ‘death by vote.’ We are very disappointed that the court today refused to stop this insanity.”
Though doctors are not certain in their diagnosis, they believe Emilio has Leigh’s Disease, a condition that is treated primarily through vitamin therapy. But on March 12, a hospital ethics committee voted behind closed doors to end Emilio’s treatment, deeming his life “futile.”
Under Texas law, a hospital is required to wait only 10 days before discontinuing treatment, to allow for a transfer to another hospital willing to admit the patient. Due to litigation, the 10-day window in Emilio’s case was extended until April 10; however, because of hospital bureaucracy and extensive paperwork, a successful transfer to another hospital is unlikely to occur in time to save Emilio’s life. A state probate hearing on this case is scheduled to take place at the Travis County Courthouse on Tuesday--the same day the hospital plans to cease giving Emilio his treatments.
An outside nurse reviewing Emilio’s records noticed that the hospital had removed the boy’s vitamin treatments during the initial 10-day period, bringing up concerns among some that the hospital could be rushing to end the toddler’s life to avoid discovery of malpractice in the boy’s treatment.
“People who could profit from an innocent person’s death should not get to decide when it occurs. Whatever the hospital’s motives are for pushing to end Emilio’s treatment, a child’s life outweighs all other concerns--whether it’s to cut costs, or for convenience, or something else,” said Carden. “And furthermore, the twisted state law that allows hospitals to exterminate disabled children over their parents’ wishes needs to be changed.”
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