Lucy Huynh (72 years old) went into cardiac arrest on March 6, 2020, and was taken to a Dallas hospital. Her daughter, Huyen, called Texas Right to Life in a panic when the hospital delivered notice of the ethics committee meeting only 24 hours before the meeting was set to take place.
Lucy was a faithful Catholic, and her daughter was confident that she would not want to pull the plug because of her religious convictions: “My mom lived with me all her life and we talked about life all the time. Being Catholic, she always was very upset when the news said someone was being taken off a ventilator; she always said God has ways of doing things and that the person should have been given a chance because you never know what God’s plan is.”
Texas Right to Life patient advocates rushed to the hospital! We were able to postpone the initial meeting for four days so that the family had more time to prepare, and our staff attended the meeting to advocate for the patient. As a result, the hospital elected not to start the 10-day countdown.
During the ethics committee meeting, the hospital claimed that Lucy’s brain function was permanently damaged, that she had no meaningful brain activity, and suffered from seizures. They also claimed they could not perform a tracheostomy, a procedure which allows for ventilation support typically provided after 14 days, because the surgery was high risk and two surgeons at the hospital had already refused. However, after determining not to start the 10-day countdown, the hospital “miraculously” was able to accomplish all the work unprompted, finding a surgeon willing to perform Lucy’s tracheostomy and move her to another hospital just a week later.
After spending a few weeks at the new facility, Lucy was successfully taken off sedation medication; her new doctors determined that the sedatives were the actual cause of her seizures. Lucy improved and became more stable at the new facility, and some nurses soon reported seeing her try to open her eyes.
Lucy passed away naturally in February 2021.
Lucy’s story clearly demonstrates that in the absence of the 10-Day Rule, hospitals are motivated to find solutions even for critically ill patients. The 10-Day Rule nearly cut Lucy’s life short, leaving a grieving and traumatized family.
“Thank you God and Texas Right to Life, who drove in from out of town on April 3 for the meeting to change their minds. It was a cold and rainy day that I will never forget and am grateful for.”