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Bills would amend state Do Not Resuscitate laws

The Michigan House of Representatives. Union members protested today in a State House committee room.
Lester Graham
Michigan Radio

Parents of a child with a terminal illness would be able to place a Do Not Resuscitate order on file at the child's school, under a package of recently introduced bills (SB 784, SB 785, SB 786).

The legislation would require schools to honor the DNR of a child with advanced illness whose heart and breathing have stopped.

Schools should honor parents' wishes to allow their child to pass away peacefully, according to the bills' sponsor, Sen. Rebekah Warren, D-Ann Arbor.

"For these parents, they want those wishes respected," said Warren. "But they also want their kids to be able to go to school."

"Parents have said we want our child, if it is their time to go, to be able to pass in comfort with comfort measures, but without active CPR that can be very damaging and painful," Warren said.

Warren said the legislation clarifies state law so that schools would not be liable for honoring the DNR.

The DNR would need to be signed by both parents, and the child's doctor.

Parents testified yesterday in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee in support of the legislation.

Dawn Krause of Saline told of her late son, Willy, who was born in 2004 and was diagnosed with a severe and rare brain disorder. She said  she pursued "an aggressive approach to his medical care," and that he also benefited from years of special education classes for children with disabilities. 

Krause said she sued the Washtenaw Intermediate School District in 2015 when it said it would not honor Willy's DNR order without a court order, even though at his previous school his DNR became part of his agreed-upon medical plan.

"For Willy and kids with these regressive disorders, the 'end' can be years," Krause said. "In the meantime they deserve an education. They deserve a life of their own with an education program designed for them."

"When a parent or guardian reaches the agonizing decision to place a DNR for their child, no one should be able to tell them that the DNR will not be honored," said Krause.

Willy died at age 11, while the lawsuit with WISD was still in progress.