The mother of a toddler claims she has had to fight hospital administrators to keep her son on life support.
Two-year-old Zody Cervantes had meningitis and suffered a seizure in an emergency room nearly two months ago. Soon after he was transferred to Rady Children’s Hospital where he’s being treated for a severe brain injury.
Last week, Zody's mom Laura Nieves said doctors visited her twice and told her they planned to take the boy off life support. Both times Nieves told the doctors that she didn’t approve of the decision.
“’I'm just letting you know right now that I don't give you permission, I don't give you consent to take my son off life support,’” Nieves told the hospital staff.
She recalled the conversation for NBC 7 San Diego, explaining how she remembers hearing a hospital staff member tell her that they didn’t need her permission.
“’We don't need your consent'. Right at the bedside,” Nieves recalled hearing from a hospital staffer.
Nieves says her son has been making progress, responding to touch and voices speaking to him and she is not ready to give up.
She has even posted signs near her son's bed stating the family's position.
NBC 7 San Diego asked Rady Children's hospital whether it was indeed their plan to remove Zody Cervantes from life support, a member of the hospital's management team said no.
“I wasn't party to the actual conversations but I've been here 40 years and, in my experience, we've never done that,” said Chief Medical Officer Buzz Kaufman, M.D..
Kaufman said he even called Nieves personally to tell her they would continue to care for her son.
He also explained what he thinks may have happened.
“I believe it's a misunderstanding about the philosophy of the institution. The people here all have children, they're here to care for children. The last thing they want to do is harm children,” Kaufman said.
Now Zody's mother is hopeful that her son can recover.
“I couldn't be happier. After seeing all the movements and I know there's going to be a lot more progress,” she said.
“Now all I can say is they need to pay more attention to what they're doing and be more compassionate.”
Would such a thing be legal in the state of California?
Ted Mazer, M.D. of the San Diego County Medical Society said there's no legal precedent requiring consent from parents to take children off of life support.
He cited a 1983 California court case "Doherty v. Superior Court" in which two doctors confirmed that a child was brain dead. In the case, the court appointed a legal guardian and life support was removed.
Should it be required that parents give medical staff permission to end life support for their child? Let us know what you think. Comment below, send us your thoughts via Twitter @nbcsandiego or add your comment to our Facebook page.