A disabled father of five has tragically passed away while being treated for COVID-19 in a Texas hospital, and his wife claims that care providers refused treatment and left him to die because of his lack of “quality of life.”
According to his wife, Melissa, 46-year-old Michael Hickson was denied care by staff at St. David’s South Austin Medical Center, ultimately leading to the father of five’s death, Life News reports.
Hickson had been a quadriplegic since 2017. He had contracted coronavirus and pneumonia from a staff member at his nursing home.
Melissa says her husband was conscious and alert. Although he could not speak, he responded to jokes, shook his head, puckered his lips on a FaceTime call when Melissa requested a kiss, and nodded “yes” when she asked if she could pray for him.
Hickson’s doctor told Melissa, however, that her husband would be placed in hospice against her will. In a recorded conversation, the doctor indicated that his paralysis equated a lack of “quality of life.”
St. David’s doctor: “So as of right now, his quality of life – he doesn’t have much of one.”
Melissa: “What do you mean? Because he’s paralyzed with a brain injury he doesn’t have quality of life?”
St. David’s doctor: “Correct.”
Life News continues:
While Michael’s wife and another family member were litigating in court who would be Michael’s permanent guardian, a judge named an Austin-area organization called Family Eldercare as temporary guardian over Michael. Family Eldercare granted the doctor’s orders to not treat Michael and instead place him in hospice. Alarmingly, the doctor reiterated the scary reality that she had zero say in whether her husband lived or died. The doctor told Melissa, “but at this point, we are going to do what we feel is best for him along with the state and this is what we decided… this is the decision between the medical community and the state.”
Michael was left without food or treatment for six days despite Melissa’s will to save her husband. He passed away from the untreated illnesses on June 11, 2020.
“I’m struggling to understand how and why this could ever happen. I lost my best friend, my better half, the other half of my heart,” Melissa grieved, according to Life News. “I was stripped of my rights as a wife, and left helplessly watching my husband be executed. I now have no husband, a widow at 47. My children left with no father to celebrate Father’s Day. All taken away from us. I have no other words to express how I feel today except hurt, angry, and frustrated.”
As heart-rending and frightening as Melissa’s experience has been, however, St. David’s has argued that Melissa’s narrative is incomplete and not entirely factual.
In a lengthy statement released last week, the Austin Medical Center’s chief medical officer Dr. DeVry Anderson contends that “some people want the public to believe that we took the position that Mr. Hickson’s life wasn’t worth being saved, and that is absolutely wrong. It wasn’t medically possible to save him.”
“Mr. Hickson was very, very ill when he arrived at our hospital,” Anderson continued. “He was transferred to us from another facility with pneumonia in both lungs, a urinary tract infection and sepsis. He also had COVID-19. Despite aggressive treatment and one-to-one care, Mr. Hickson went into multi-system organ failure.”
Anderson added that Hickson’s tube feedings were discontinued after he had aspirated much of the nutrition received through his feeding tube, which can itself be fatal.
“Hospice care began, at the direction of the court-appointed guardian, when it was clinically indicated that the patient was not going to survive his illness,” Anderson concluded. “At that point, every effort was made to make the patient comfortable. Our team knew Michael Hickson, and we cared for him. His life was deeply valued, and we felt the loss of it.”
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