UM Hospital Removes Life Support From Teenager Despite Parents’ Legal Efforts


A University of Michigan hospital removed a teenager from life support Tuesday after a legal appeal was dismissed by a Washtenaw County Court in Ann Arbor.

Bobby Reyes, age 14 (pictured above), went into cardiac arrest when an asthma attack failed to respond to his inhaler on September 21. His mother had driven him to a nearby fire station, where he collapsed. She administered CPR, and he was airlifted to Mott’s Children’s Hospital.

When the hospital declared him brain dead during the following week, the family obtained a court order to delay removal of life support, saying their son was showing signs of improvement. Hospital, family, and others searched for a facility willing to accept Bobby’s transfer for ongoing care.

Tuesday’s 10 am hearing was delayed during a consultation in chambers. In a brief statement, Judge David S. Swartz dismissed the case, which properly belonged before a Court of Claims.

“If the court doesn’t have jurisdiction, the Supreme Court has made it clear that I have no authority to do anything,” he said. “I cannot order a stay as has been requested. I am totally without the power to do so.”

William Amadeo, counsel for the family, had taken over the case pro bono after the initial filing.

“I do not think a procedural error should be the reason this young man does not have a chance at life,” he said after the hearing. “This could be the end – I hope and pray not.” He left immediately to file an appeal for a stay at Detroit’s Court of Appeals.

According to family statements, by 11:36 p.m. and against their wishes, Mott’s Children’s Hospital proceeded with tests required by Michigan law to declare brain death.

The hospital scheduled removing ventilator support at 2 pm and issued a death certificate by 3 p.m.

“The University of Michigan just killed my son,” Sarah Lynn Jones posted on social media. “Our lawyer Bill had papers at the courthouse in his hand that could have saved him but they rushed this whole thing so fast. Bobby is gone…”

The hospital, owned by the University of Michigan, released a statement.

Bobby Schindler, President of the Terri Schiavo Life & Hope Network, attended the hearing at the parents’ request.

Schindler believes the Reyes case is “representative of a problem within the US healthcare system rushing to end the life of patients within the confines of hospital corporations, which have a vested financial interest in discontinuing life, ” he stated in a press release Monday.

“Families enduring the emotional trauma of a life-or-death crisis of a loved one should be able to trust that they will be listened to by doctors and reasonably accommodated when asking for more time before making an irrevocable decision.”

Supporters packed the courtroom, leaving standing room only. Public displays of support included a vigil at Bobby’s school. A Facebook group “Save Bobby” has passed 10,000 members.

After the hearing, Patty Hansen of Manchester organized picketing outside Mott Children’s Hospital. She reported people stopping and honking in support. Some walking past stopped to pray.

“The law needs to change! None of us knew what the laws were in Michigan until Bobby’s family had to fight for their son’s right to life,” she said in a message to The Michigan Star.

“It could be any one of our children,” she said.

Jennifer Thie of Pinckney attended the hearing hoping the family would gain more time. If they could persuade the hospital to perform a tracheostomy, that would allow another facility to accept Bobby for prolonged ventilator support.

“The American Association of Neurologists have stated that no discussion of such a diagnosis should be raised for 28 days post injury to allow the brain to heal,” she said, referring to the hospital’s diagnosis of brain death.

“My heart hurts, not just for Bobby and this family but for the state of our society. How can this happen without parental consent?”

She said that a group is forming to pursue changes to MI law, perhaps modeled after Simon’s Law.

“Of course, we want to call it Bobby’s Law.”

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Abigail Nobel is a reporter for The Michigan Star.
Photo “Bobby Reyes” by Save Bobby. 







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7 Thoughts to “UM Hospital Removes Life Support From Teenager Despite Parents’ Legal Efforts”

  1. Sherry morris

    Im writing tell a few family members of mine.. My brother was at McLaren hospital in Flint.. He had died 3 times from a rupture pancreatitis.. The Dr came in and said . say out good byes…. We believe he knew we were there.. We ask for a social worker on that floor.. U of M expected him… He stay 6 monthes. And woke up and ralk to us. It was long monthes.. But he is he here with us today.. Never give up ….. And As of right now I have a cousin that has close brain injuries in Nov 98 and she dont talk but she breathing on her own and she tube feed and she dont walk or anything.. But remember we dont know what they are thinking … They are babies all over again.. Pray for this little guy… Flushing Mi.Family

  2. Christine Arnold

    Should’ve been the PARENTS choice when to pull the plug, NOT the hospitals period!!!!

  3. Marian juskiw

    The hospital was aware that placement for Bobby was being pursued but still the hospital proceeded with the second test…. Bobby had trauma and needed healing of the mind, body, soul, and with the second test it killed him. Is a hospital just a money corporation or a place of healing,

    1. Richard

      ‘Bobby had trauma and needed healing of the mind, body, soul, and with the second test it killed him.’ Are you for real? How do you heal something that is dead. No longer living. No electrical activity. Finito. Nothing. Gone. How do you not understand that Bobby was dead from the day of his asthma attack? He went without oxygen for too long. Nothing could bring him back or heal him no matter how long his family waited.
      You must be one of those on his FB page, perpetuating lies and spewing false allegations against the hospitals and doctors. Disgraceful. Let the boy RIP and leave his family to try and come to terms with their loss, they don’t need uninformed, shortsighted ‘fans’ getting in their ears.

  4. Richard

    There was no improvements or healing to be had. You cannot heal a brain that is dead. A brain that has had no blood flow since the day Bobby collapsed. I feel terribly sad and sorry for the family’s loss. But all the people commenting on his Facebook page need to stop with the conspiracy theories. The plug was not pulled because it was costing too much in insurance, nor because the doctor’s were scared Bobby would wake up and prove them wrong. Nor did they want him to die to get his organs. Listen to yourselves. Let the family grieve without all the preposterous lies being spread. The poor boy was gone from the first day, and by turning off the life support, the hospital finally gave him dignity and let him rest in peace.

    1. TJ

      Amen….. while heartbreaking and traumatic, it was abuse to the child to keep his body connected to machines that ultimately could not heal the brain. Lay people need to realize that they do not understand medicine unless they’re trained in it. May he finally Rest In Peace.

      1. Touché Richard and TJ, you are spot on! This poor child was gone on day one. Lack of brain activity, not lack of heart beat or spontaneous respiration determines life or death. Artificially circulating blood by beating the heart with a pacemaker or artificially oxygenating the blood by ventilating the lungs with a ventilator does not create life. Without a functioning brain or brain stem, the body can not regulate body functions, such as; body temperature, metabolism, electrolytes, pH and on and on. The brain is the ultimate factor. The broken family needs support to understand this loss, not fuel to accelerate their massive grief ………