“Need to keep him alive till June 30 at a minimum.”
Oct 15, 2019 |
ProPublica – On a Thursday morning this past April, 61-year-old Darryl Young was lying unconscious in the eighth-floor intensive care unit of Newark Beth Israel Medical Center.
After suffering from congestive heart failure for years, Young, a Navy veteran and former truck driver with three children, had received a heart transplant on Sept. 21, 2018.
He didn’t wake up after the operation and had been in a vegetative state ever since.
Machines whirred in his room, pumping air into his lungs. Nutrients and fluids dripped from a tube into his stomach.
Young had always been fastidious, but now his hair and toenails had grown long.
A nurse suctioned mucus from his throat several times a day to keep him from choking, according to employees familiar with his care.
His medical record would note: “He follows no commands. He looks very encephalopathic”—brain damaged.
That day, in another wing of the hospital, where a group of surgeons, cardiologists, transplant coordinators, nurses, and social workers gathered for their weekly meeting in a second-floor conference room, his name came up.
“Anything on Darryl Young?” asked cardiologist Dr. Darko Vucicevic, according to a recording of the meeting obtained by ProPublica.
“Need to keep him alive till June 30 at a minimum,” responded Dr. Mark Zucker, director of the hospital’s heart and lung transplant programs.
Since the transplant, Young had suffered from pneumonia, strokes, seizures, and a fungal infection.
The Newark transplant team believed that he would never wake up or recover function, according to current and former staff members familiar with his case, as well as audio recordings.
Yet they wanted to do all they could to keep his new heart beating.
The recordings show that the transplant team was fixated on keeping him alive, rather than his quality of life or his family’s wishes, because of worries about … Read more.