A 2-year-old girl who has been on life support since May after choking on popcorn has died, the Daily Mail is reporting.
Mirranda Grace Lawson passed away at the Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center after her kidneys failed. Her distraught parents had fought doctors for months who wanted to certify she was brain dead. The apnea procedure would have meant that her ventilator would have been shut down. The doctors were looking to confirm if her brain could signal the body to continue breathing on its own.
Lawson’s parents had gone to court to prevent the hospital from carrying out the brain test. They were worried that the medical procedure would harm her.
One of the doctors in court had argued that it would be impossible for the 2-year-old to breathe without the machine. He added that the brain test was not dangerous, even if Mirranda was not brain dead. He said caring for a little girl who had no chance of recovery was costing the hospital over $10,000 a day. A health system attorney revealed that keeping the 2-year-old on life support when she was clinically dead was putting the lives of other critically ill children at risk.
“Having one of the PICU beds and all the human resources that entails, occupied by Mirranda who has been dead for weeks, jeopardizes the care of critically ill children that VCU Health System is being forced to turn away.”
In June, a Richmond court had ruled against Mirranda’s parents. However, it had given them an option to pay a $30,000 bond which stopped the hospital from going ahead with the test while the case went to the Virginia Supreme Court. In July, the apex court reinforced the denial of the hospital not to perform the test while it considered the appeal of the Lawsons.
The case was still under appeal when Mirranda Grace died.
A spokesman for VCU Health in a written statement expressed heartfelt condolences to the Lawsons.
“We extend our deepest sympathies to the Lawson family as they grieve Mirranda Grace’s death. During the several months Mirranda was at our hospital, we saw the Lawson’s enduring love and support of their daughter dealing with the tragedy. Mirranda’s medical team demonstrated the highest-levels of quality and compassionate care for her and her family. Our thoughts and best hopes remain with the Lawsons.”
The hospital had revealed in court documents that all “clinical tests conducted on Mirranda had been consistent with brain death.” The hospital went on to say that according to Virginia law, doctors could assert if a person is brain dead without any testing. However, it helped if an apnea test was pursued “to give the parents absolute confirmation.”
The Lawsons had shown their opposition in a handwritten letter to their daughter’s doctors. The couple cited their Christian faith as the reason why they could not allow Mirranda to be removed from life support, calling it “murder.” Patrick Lawson had been optimistic that his daughter would regain consciousness because she still had “something to do in this world.”
Patrick Lawson said that his little girl was alive because her blood pressure and heart rate was responding to family voices and her favorite music. Patrick and his wife, Allison, said they were ready to take Mirranda home if they could be vetoed by the medical professionals caring for her. Patrick and Allison were ready to keep their toddler alive for as long as it took. They said if the doctors had given up that their daughter could be revived, the same would not happen to them.
For them it was imperativ, that their little girl remain on life support either at the medical center or at home.
Arthur Caplan working with the medical ethics division at New York University’s School of Medicine said, because of the conflicts of interests involved, most hospitals did not even bother to inform parents or guardians before carrying out the test. He added that parents were now in legal tussles to keep critically ill children on life support across America and it was frustrating.
“Hospitals typically don’t even ask before performing such routine tests…you’d have chaos if doctors were asking permission to do every test relative to the determination of death.”
Mirranda Grace was a bubbly toddler who choked on a piece of popcorn during her mother’s birthday celebration on May 11. A kernel had blocked her airway causing her to choke and go into cardiac arrest. Her father had performed CPR until paramedics arrived at the scene. The little girl’s heart started again, but she never regained consciousness.
Remember to say a prayer for Mirranda.
[Featured Image by Elena Veselova/Shutterstock]