Bobby Reyes, a 14-year-old boy in Michigan whom doctors declared brain dead, died last week after a judge dismissed his family’s request for more time. The University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital removed his ventilator and announced his death hours after the judge’s ruling Tuesday.
Reyes, from Monroe Township, went into cardiac arrest after an asthma attack on Sept. 22. Doctors pronounced him brain dead when he arrived at the hospital by helicopter. His family went to court to stop the hospital from conducting a second test to confirm its findings and get grounds to remove the ventilator.
Reyes’ parents requested time to arrange for their son’s transfer to another hospital, saying other doctors had given them hope he could recover. One physician, Richard P. Bonfiglio, a graduate of the University of Michigan Medical School, attended court hearings and told the Detroit Free Press he reviewed Reyes’ charts and visited him at the hospital. Officials did not allow Bonfiglio to conduct a formal examination, but he said, “Brain death is not a precise science. … I would rather err on the side of giving him a chance than on terminating things.”
After Reyes’ death, his mother, Sarah Jones, posted on Facebook that “the University of Michigan just killed my son. … They rushed this whole thing so fast. Bobby is gone and I feel so numb.”
The Terri Schiavo Life & Hope Network, a patient advocacy group, called Reyes’ death premature and needless: “Tragically, situations like what the Reyes family experienced are occurring every day across our country when hospitals decide within days to stop care to persons with severe brain injuries.” —M.J.