Andrea Clark is being treated - Internet users made a difference

The futility care proceedings to end Andrea Clarks medical treatment have been discontinued and her care has been transferred to Dr. Matthew Lenz, a physician with privileges at St. Luke's Hospital. The Houston Chronicle quotes Andrea's new doctor:


"The odds are against her," acknowledged Dr. Matthew Lenz, the doctor assuming Clark's primary care. "She's in critical condition and any new complication could be life threatening, but we're going to give her a fighting chance."
Today she is undergoing a procedure to drain her gall bladder which is at risk of rupturing.

The same article noted that St. Luke's is continuing an "an aggressive search" for a facility to provide for Andreas long-term medical treatment and highlighted efforts aimed at changing the Texas law the led to the controversy:

The case, the second in a week in which a Texas hospital backed off plans to take a patient off life support, shined a light on a controversial state law that gives hospitals such authority. Ongoing meetings aimed at reforming the law in the 2007 Legislature are being held in Austin.

"The discussion of these cases is going to produce changes in the law," said Greg Hooser, an Austin attorney and consultant leading the meetings. "In hopes of making the law better, we're looking at safeguards to prevent problems that have arisen."

An inside look at why the law needs radical changes was written yesterday by Andreas attorney, Jerri Ward.

Melanie, Andrea's sister, alerted internet readers about the case on the Democratic Underground. In a recent post on the forum she states that internet users and the "right to life people" made a big difference:

It's kind of funny, now, to think of it, but you know, when the doctor called us into an informal meeting, to discuss Andrea being taken off of life support, my sister, Lanore, my brother, Robert, and I were really pissed off. My sister and I told those doctors that if they called for an ethics committee meeting, we would stand in front of their hospital and picket. I don't think they took us seriously. I think they thought we were just pissed off and we wouldn't actually carry through with our threat.

When we DID stand with our signs in front of the hospital, we didn't number very many, but by then it was all over the internet. Some blogs picked it up from DU, and spread the word around. Once that happened, it was like it caught fire, or something. It just went from one blog to another, and to another, and another.

The doctors didn't underestimate our family. They underestimated the power of the internet.

They also underestimated the power of the right to life people. This is an issue that is close to their hearts, believe me. In this case, as well as many others that will probably come up in the future, I think we should all be glad that this IS an issue in which such a passionate and large group of people have chosen to wage war. Once these people get started, they are like a steamroller--they ARE going to run through the opposition.

In this case, you had two networks--the internet, and the right to life groups. Both of them worked in synergy, to create such an uproar that the mainstream media had to pay attention to. Once the media got on to this, St. Luke's began to be aware that they had a major problem on their hands.

The right to life doctor that the Texas Right to Life people put us in touch with--once he signed on to take Andrea as a patient and the transfer was made to his care (he practices at St. Luke's), that is what stopped the the futility process. I think St. Luke's was happy to have this way out.

The North Country Gazette has more information.




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