Nova Scotia

N.S. mother fights for comatose son

A Nova Scotia mother is fighting to keep her baby, born with an injury to his brain, alive for a little bit longer.
Krista Cook wants to keep her baby son Bryson on a ventilator for a bit longer.

A Nova Scotia mother is fighting to keep her baby, born with an injury to his brain, alive for a little bit longer.

Krista Cook said her son, Bryson, is in a deep coma and is breathing with the aid of a ventilator. He was born Feb. 1, a month premature, at the IWK Health Centre in Halifax.

Her baby is not brain dead, she said, but scans show very little activity as a result of an injury that cut off the oxygen to his brain.

"They called him being born flat — his heart was beating but he wasn't breathing," the Wedgeport woman told CBC News.

Bryson is on a ventilator in the intensive care unit. Cook said the medical team have told her that he will never be able to live without it and recommends removing the tube.

"I was told that 'there's no hope for your son, he's never going to recover.' And that they need to bring in the ethics committee to help make the decisions for Bryson," Cook, 36, said.

When a family disagrees with the medical advice, the hospital's ethics committee is brought in to find common ground. The IWK said it couldn't comment on the specific case because of patient confidentiality, but did say it handles between five and seven such cases every year.

Courts have final say

Dr. Jeff Kirby, an ethics adviser with Dalhousie University's bioethics department, said the courts have the final say in cases where the two parties can't agree.

"You've done all these things — you've had the dialogues, the legal analyses — and at the end of the day there's still conflict between the parents and the attending medical team, then sometimes it has to go the courts for a decision," Kirby said. "That's the final decision-making."

Krista, her mother and a clergyman will meet with the hospital's ethics team this week.

She said she doesn't intend to keep her baby on life-support indefinitely.

"I think maybe that's what they think — that I would leave him on a ventilator for years on end. I would never do that. I know I'm not going to take my child home to his nursery that we created, and to everybody that loves him," Cook said through her tears.

"But, I also just want time with my child uninterrupted, without being told constantly the medical facts I already know." 

Cause of injury unknown

Cook said she doesn't know what caused the injury to her baby's brain.

She was admitted to the IWK because of her back problems and was unconscious during the caesarean-section birth. Cook said she has yet to see the doctor who delivered the baby, although the request has been made.

Bryson has gained two pounds, and Cook said she has seen flickers of movement for the first time. It's convinced her it's too soon to make a final decision.

"Maybe these things that he's doing, maybe they don't mean anything. In the doctors' opinions, they don't. But, I just feel in my heart right now that it's not time to let him go. He needs a little time, and we need a little time," Cook said.

"I want to know in my heart that I gave my son the chance to try without just giving up on him."