Michael Hickson 46, died in Texas after doctors refused to treat him for COVID-19 and left him without nutrition and hydration due to his disability.
According to the Texas Right to Life association, Hickson had been paraplegic since May 2017 when he had a sudden cardiac arrest while taking his wife Melissa to work. He had undergone to a cardio-pulmonary resuscitation but suffered an anoxic brain injury from temporary brain anoxia.
His wife and their five children stayed by his side throughout the long rehabilitation period. A short time ago he contracted COVID-19 from a staff member of the nursing home where he was hospitalised and developed pneumonia.
Michael was conscious and attentive but could not communicate verbally. He responded to the jokes, shook his head and pursed his lips in a video call when Melissa asked for a kiss. Melissa asked him if they could pray together with their children, and he nodded “yes”.
He was then hospitalised at the South Austin Medical Center in St. David where doctors refused to treat him leaving him starving and thirsty.
In a recorded conversation between the doctor and Melissa, she is told that her husband would not receive treatment because of his disability despite his willingness to live:
Doctor: So as of right now, his quality of life — he doesn’t have much of one.
Melissa: What do you mean? Because he’s paralyzed with a brain injury he doesn’t have quality of life?
Although Melissa and another family member had a court case to be appointed as Hickson’s permanent guardian, the judge appointed the Family Eldercare organization as temporary guardian and that organization approved the doctor’s order not to treat Hickson and instead to put him in hospice. Melissa had no say in this decision.
“At this point, we are going to do what we feel is best for him along with the state and this is what we decided… this is the decision between the medical community and the state,” the doctor told her. As a result, Hickson was refused feeding and treatment for Coronavirus for six days and died on June 11, 2020.
“I’m struggling to understand how and why this could ever happen,” said Melissa. “I lost my best friend, my better half, the other half of my heart. I was stripped of my rights as a wife, and left helplessly watching my husband be executed. I now have no husband, a widow at 47. My children left with no father to celebrate Father’s Day. All taken away from us. I have no words to express how I feel today except hurt, angry, and frustrated.”
Texas Right to Life is asking Texas lawmakers to step up the protection of vulnerable patients like Hickson from the risk of being denied treatment against the will of the patient and family. Cases like this have been on the rise in the state since the unethical 10-day rule was implemented.
Emmanuele Di Leo