HOUSTON (FOX 26) - Houston's Methodist Hospital is two weeks away from ending life-saving treatment of a man in its critical care unit. Not only is the man's mother fighting to save his life, the man himself is in a compelling video, praying to stay alive as well.
It’s hard to believe this is happening, but this Evelyn Kelly is basically fighting a death panel.
“They're trying to take his life,” Kelly told Fox 26, “So I started looking for someone that's trying to save his life.”
Kelly has spent the past 8 weeks at her son's bedside. She says she assumed that doctors were working to save his life, until, she says, they gave her 10 days notice that they planned to stop his treatment.
“They want to come in and unplug life support and administer a comfort drug, or comfort care,” she says, “And he will pass within 3 to 4 minutes.”
I asked, “Are you sure about that?”
Kelly nods and says, “That's what the lady who will administer the drug that's what she said. “
When 46-year-old Chris Dunn became sick 2 months ago, doctors found a large mass attached to his pancreas. His condition quickly became so serious he needed a breathing tube and to be fed intravenously.
It's not known if he has cancer, because Methodist doctors have told his mother that Chris is too sick to live through a biopsy.
But Chris was videotaped on December 2nd saying he wanted doctors to try to save him.
In the video, Chris’s mother and the family’s lawyers are present.
“Chris we're trying to make sure the hospital continues to give you care,” Joe Nixon says in the video. “Do you want to stay alive?”
You can see the palms Chris’s hands come together and he nods. In the background you can hear his mother’s voice saying “He's praying.”
Chris has no insurance, but his mother says Methodist hospital has applied for him to receive emergency Medicare benefits. She still thinks the cost of his care is a factor in the hospital wanting to stop treatment.
Houston Methodist hospital refused the family’s request for Fox 26 to be in his hospital room, saying that media is never allowed in the Intensive Care Unit. It also refused to talk with Fox 26 on camera. Instead Houston Methodist did provide a statement that says in part:
"We are providing the best possible care to the patient and we continue to care for him. We are working with the courts to get guidance on who has legal guardianship of the patient. The patient's family disagrees on the appropriate end-of-life care for this patient. We feel strongly that every decision we have made is in the best interest of the patient."
What Kelly is up against, is a very scary state law.
“The hospital has utilized a provision of the Texas Health and Safety Code which allows them to form an nameless, faceless committee, which will make a decision on whether they have to continue providing treatment for Chris,” attorney Joe Nixon tells Fox26. “If treatment is not continued, Chris will die.”
Chris knows what life saving treatment is. His mother says he used to be an Emergency Medical Technician, and then he was a deputy for the Harris County Sheriff's Office.
“After 9/11 he decided he wanted to work for Homeland Security and put his application in,” she said.
Kelly says he got the job, and became a TSA supervisor at Hobby Airport. Then, showing us his passport, she says he traveled the world on various security missions, including battling pirates off the coast of Somalia.
But here at home, Chris has no security in the hospital under a doctor's care.
Texas Right to Life has joined in on the effort to save Chris’s life. James Graham, President of the organization, says they are seeing this issue come up more and more.
“This case is one of the more egregious ones,” Graham says. “You actually have Chris begging for his life, praying for his life, telling his attorney’s ‘Please help me and please save me.’”
Kelly has gotten court ordered deadline extensions and now has 2 weeks to work with, either to change Methodist’s position on the matter, or to do what may be more difficult: find another hospital who will take on Chris's care.