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UM hospital removes life support from 14-year-old boy ruled brain dead

C.S. Mott Children's & Women's Hospital, East Medical Center Drive, Ann Arbor, Michigan
Dwight Burdette
Wiki Commons

On Tuesday morning, a Michigan judge rejected a request to keep a 14-year-old boy on life support so his family could find another hospital. Washtenaw County Judge David Swartz said he had no power to intervene, although he understood the family's "heartbreak."

Following the decision, C.S. Mott Children's Hospital conducted a second brain death examination on Bobby Reyes of Monroe County late Tuesday morning, according to a statement from Michigan Medicine. As his family gathered in his room, mechanical ventilation was discontinued, and Reyes was pronounced dead.

Michigan Medicine detailed their decision in the statement:

The brain death examination showed Bobby had no detectable brain or brain stem function. Further testing — including an electrical encephalogram (EEG) and a cerebral blood flow study — detected no electrical activity and no blood flow to Bobby’s brain. By law in Michigan, an individual is dead who has sustained either irreversible cessation of circulatory and respiratory functions or irreversible cessation of all function of the entire brain, including the brain stem. Continuing medical interventions was inappropriate after Bobby had suffered brain death and violates the professional integrity of Michigan Medicine’s clinicians.

C.S. Mott Children's Hospital is part of the University of Michigan, which means it is considered part of the state government. Due to that, any lawsuits against the hospital must be filed through the Michigan Court of Claims. Because of this, Swartz had no jurisdiction in the case, which was acknowledged by attorneys on both sides of the case. According to the Associated Press, an attorney for the family was working to rush the file to the Michigan Court of Claims.

Reyes had been on life support since an asthma attack in September. 

The hospital was willing to transfer Bobby if another facility could be found. According to the statement from Michigan Medicine, the hospital worked with the family to contact more than 20 facilities, each one declining to take on his care.

The Associated Press is an independent global news organization dedicated to factual reporting.
Jodi is Michigan Public's Director of Digital Audiences, leading and developing the station’s overall digital strategy.