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US family fights for son to die

BMJ 1994; 309 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.309.6961.1035 (Published 22 October 1994) Cite this as: BMJ 1994;309:1035
  1. J Roberts

    A Minnesota family's decision to stop medical treatment of their son has erupted into a public battle over the rights of disabled people in the United States. Jamie Butcher was 17 when a car crash left him unconscious in October 1977. Five years later Ronald Cranford, a neurologist from Minneapolis, diagnosed Jamie as being in a persistent vegetative state.

    The Butcher family continued to care for Jamie, first for seven years at home and then in a nursing home. This year, almost 17 years after the accident, his mother, Pattie Butcher, announced that the family had decided that Jamie would never regain consciousness, and they asked doctors to remove his feeding tube.

    The family contacted Dr Cranford, an expert in the persistent vegetative state, and went through standard procedures to …

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