NRL News

12-Year-Old Boy Doctors Wanted to Die Now In Rehab

by | Oct 15, 2012

By Wesley J. Smith

Look into the future if Obamacare remains. Texas has a futile care law permitting a hospital bioethics panel to refuse wanted life-sustaining treatment if they don’t think the patient’s life is worth the cost or has sufficient quality.  It is like the old signs over restaurant doors, “We reserve the right to refuse service.” (I have warned against Futile Care Theory often, including here at NRO.)

Last August, I reported on a boy named Zach McDaniel, who had been shot in the head, and only one week after the injury, doctors wanted to pull all plugs.  But the administrative procedure wasn’t followed correctly and they had to start over.  Well, guess what: The boy is now fully awake. From the Texas Right to Life story:

“Zach was moved to the Children’s Medical Center in Dallas, where doctors were hopeful and said that Zach had a survivable injury. Doctors there slowly weaned Zach off the sedatives in order to bring him out of his drug-induced coma. Now, Zach is fully conscious, talking, and receiving physical therapy.”

John Seago details Zach’s recovery:

“Zach has regular short term and long term memory capacity. He has had both a successful brain surgery, and reconstructive surgery to repair his skull from damage caused by the bullet. Currently, he is in the process of moving to a full in-patient rehabilitation facility where they will help him recover fine motor skills and the ability to walk again. He was in a drug-induced coma for so long that his body has to relearn these simple functions. However, his doctors expect him to have a full physical recovery, with the only lasting damage being weakened vision in his left eye.”

If the futile care protocol had been enforced, he might well be dead.  It is wrong that the parents had to fight so hard against the boy’s own doctors and hospital to save his life.

Note, that the media haven’t reported this widely.  Had the doctors had their way, Zach would probably be dead.  And the crickets chirp. They are oh, so caught up with the “right to die.” But the right to live doesn’t resonate today, which is a very troubling sign of the times in which we live.

Editor’s note. This appears on Wesley’s great blog at

Categories: Rationing