Another Desperate Case in Texas: Yenlang Vo

Yenlang Vo is a hospital patient who, like Andrea Clark (more here), has been designated by her doctors for passive euthanasia under Texas' futile care statute. While a patient of St. David's North Austin Medical Center in Austin, her condition has been given the label persistent vegetative state. The diagnosis is disputed by the family, including Ms. Vo's daugher, Loann Trihn, who is an emergency room doctor and suggests that her mother is responsive. Mr. Vo's family have until June 5th to find another doctor and facility - otherwise treatment will be withdrawn and her life ended.

Today we received the following message from Lanore Dixon, one of Andrea Clark's sisters, concerning her visit with Mrs. Vo:

I was in Austin this weekend and asked Jerri Ward (the lawyer who represented my sister, Andrea Clark, and who is also representing Mrs. Vo) if I could go see Mrs. Vo. She thought it was a good idea and she met me up there Sunday morning. We were escorted to Mrs. Vo's room by her husband, Mr. Tran.

Before I was allowed in the room, a nurse stopped us at the door and demanded to know who I was. I told her I was a friend of the family. She wanted to know what "kind" of friend I was. I told her I was an "important" friend of the family. She said if I was media she couldn't let me in. This didn't seem right to me, but I didn't argue the point since I wasn't media. I assured her I was not media. We washed and gowned and went in to see Mrs. Vo. The nurse hovered in the room and about the door for most of the visit.

We weren't there five minutes and another hospital official along with a security guard came into the room and handed me a business card. She told me I'd have to call the administrator on the card and identify myself. Is it just me or is this sounding Gestapo to you too? I asked her if she was telling me I couldn't visit the patient if unless I called this person. She started crabwalking a bit..."I'm just saying you are to call..." I demanded to know if she was telling me I couldn't visit the patient. Then the security guard interrupted and said he thought there was some kind of misunderstanding and he drew the woman back out into the hall to talk in low tones--after a few minutes they disappeared down the hall.


By this time I was fairly livid. I wanted to visit with Mrs. Vo and they kept interrupting. After another five minutes, here comes ANOTHER hospital official to verify that I was not media. I don't know what's wrong with those people. Are they stupid or something? Are they calling me a liar? How many times do they have to be told I am not media? And even if I were, it's none of their business if the family wants me there! I mean, is Mrs. Vo a patient or a prisoner?

Mr. Tran loves his wife so much. The entire time we were there he rubbed her skin with oil, did range of motion exercises on her, cleaned her mouth, suctioned her mouth and vent. Oh...the nurse was mad about that...she was so rude.

Mrs. Vo is much healthier than Andrea. She's nice and fat and her skin is beautiful--not all broken down like Andrea's. She watches you with her eyes--despite the nurse telling us that "she can't track." Nonsense. She probably is uncooperative with the hospital because she knows they don't care about her. She was "tracking" her husband, me, and Jerri just fine. The nurse got mad when Mr. Tran swabbed out his wife's mouth. The nurse said, "I just did that." He ignored her and continued to care for his wife, so the nurse started complaining to us about it. Jerri asked the nurse if it would hurt if he cleaned out his wife's mouth. She hesitated, then she said, "Well, she doesn't like it." Sure enough, Mrs. Vo was making an ugly face as her husband swabbed her mouth. Well, apparently, the patient has preferences about having her mouth cleaned. To me, this says she is responding to her environment. And even the nurse admitted that.

No one can convince me that Mr. Tran isn't experiencing a feeling of love as he cares for his wife or that Mrs. Vo isn't experiencing the feeling of being loved as he takes care of her. Those are the most exquisite of all human experiences--if Mrs. Vo still has access to the best of all human experiences, how can it be anything other than pure murder for them to remove her life support?

This is all becoming very surreal to me...how is it that hospitals seem to feel a sense of entitlement when it comes to killing off patients? How is it that they have so much resentment towards those who believe in a patient's right to life? Are they so comfortable with the God-like power attributed to them by the law and families that they become apoplectic at the very notion that someone might question their authority?

That kind of power is very dangerous to anyone who could possibly become a patient. Texas isn't the only state with medical futility laws. We all need to be fighting this battle.

Thanks for posting this, Lanore Dixon

The reports we've received concerning Mrs. Vo's case are troubling and we will be closely watching the actions of St. David's North Austin Medical Center. Hopefully, the hospital will continue to work with the family to meet the medical needs of Mrs. Vo rather than using futile care laws to purposefully end her life.

Update (5/16): After conversations with the family it is clear that Mrs. Vo's case is desperate. The family is frantically searching for another licensed care facility and a nephrologist who will meet her medical needs. As it stands, there are very few prospects and a June 5th deadline looming. Your prayers would be appreciated. If you have information about possible treatment options or know a physician in Texas you are urged to contact the family.

Update 2: Emails to the hospital may be sent through the contact form at http://www.stdavidsmedweb.com/namc/content.asp?id=57. Telephone numbers for St. David's and North Austin Medical Center are 512-901-2500 for administration and 512-397-4215. St. David's main phone number is 512-901-1000.

See Futile Care Law Claims Another, Venlang Vo In Danger for a detailed look at the case.

Here's a little background on Mrs. Vo:

Yolang T. Vo was born in Vietnam. She was a young mother when Saigon fell. Her husband was an officer in the South Vietnamese Navy. After the Communists took over, they put her husband in a re-education camp. Yolang worked her fingers to the bone to earn enough money to bribe guards so that her husband could escape the camp. After his escape, the couple fled from Vietnam on a rickety boat with other "boat people" in 1979. They came to America, where Yolang continued to work hard so that she could bring her young daughter out of Vietnam to America. She achieved that in 1981. She also helped her sisters and the rest of her family escape the Communists to come to America. Yolang's family reveres her.

Previously:

Yenlang Vo's Struggle for Life

Andrea Clark Is Not the Only One




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