In Re Application for the Appointment of a Guardian for Baby Boy W
New York State Reporter, 2nd Series, 2004; 773: 255-263
The full title for this New York case, "In the Matter of the Application for the Appointment of a Guardian for Baby Boy W, A Mentally Retarded Person," explains the problem. Baby Boy W was born by emergency cesarean section when his mother died from a seizure. No father appeared before the Broome County Surrogate's Court. The newborn was severely mentally retarded due to encephalopathy; he required a feeding tube and ventilator; and he showed pain. His condition was irreversible and terminal, termed "dismal". From the bench, the court appointed the maternal grandmother, a nurse with experience in ob-gyn and pediatrics, as guardian to make health care decisions, including withholding or withdrawing life-sustaining treatment. Baby Boy W died after that order. The court's written decision details the reasoning under a new statutory amendment allowing the appointment of guardians to decide about life support termination for mentally retarded persons.
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