Premature baby in US provokes ethical dilemma

BMJ 1995; 310 doi: (Published 14 January 1995) Cite this as: BMJ 1995;310:79

The parents of a severely ill baby, born six weeks prematurely in the state of Washington, could not accept their son's poor prognosis and refused to allow dialysis to be withdrawn. Ryan Nguyen was asphyxiated with barely a heartbeat when he was born last October to an American Indian mother and a Vietnamese father.

The doctors at the Sacred Heart Medical Center in Spokane revived Ryan after heroic efforts, began dialysis and intravenous feeding, and administered anticonvulsants to control his frequent seizures, which indicated severe brain damage.

The baby's prognosis was considered to be grave, with irreversible renal failure requiring permanent …

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