July 8th, 2010
04:27 PM ET

Visiting brain-damaged mom, a collision of instincts

I am not sure which instinct took over first. When I heard the story of Abbie Dorn, I remember listening with my "head" as a neurosurgeon, and also listening with my "heart" - as a dad. Like you probably will, I thought of Abbie's three children. I have three of my own.

Abbie was young, recently married, and wanting to start a family. It did not happen easily. She underwent IVF, and was finally told she was pregnant. Triplets. It was the most exciting day of her life.  Abbie's mother told me all of this, because Abbie cannot. You see, something went terribly wrong during the delivery. There was bleeding, more than two liters. Abbie's heart failed, and for too long her brain went without oxygenated blood.

Abbie survived, but she was left in a state where she can barely move, cannot speak and only blinks her eyes.  As you will see as I examine Abbie,  it is this blinking that is now at the heart of a bitter legal controversy.

Abbie's parents, her therapist and her lawyer believe she is communicating through those blinks. They believe she is letting them know: "I want to see my children." Her husband, who has since divorced her, thinks otherwise. He thinks that there is no way she could be communicating, and that it would be damaging for the children to see their mother in this condition. He worries the triplets, who are now 4 years old, might one day blame themselves for what happened to her, at the time of their birth.

There are gray areas of medicine, and that is especially true  when it comes to the brain. Doctors don't agree on Abbie's condition. And, now to try and settle this, medicine and the legal system will collide.

Of course, when sitting back and thinking about this whole situation, my dad instinct took over once again. I wondered if the focus regarding Abbie was misplaced. Regardless of her condition or her ability to communicate or interact, do her children have a right to see their mother? And, does Abbie have a right to be with her children? There are no easy answers, but I am eager to hear what you have to say.

Program Note: See Dr. Sanjay Gupta's full report on Abbie Dorn tonight on AC360° at 10pm ET.

soundoff (682 Responses)
  1. Ligia

    As the daughter of a mother currently in a coma, I encourage all of you to read more about this subject. Please go to this link: http://www.aamindell.net/blog/coma and read about Dr. Arnold Mindell's groundbreaking ways of communicating with those in altered states of consciousness.

    One of the most important points Dr. Mindell makes is that people in a coma are going through very meaningful experiences and we should try to join them where they are in their journey before we try to force them to come back to our state of consciousness.

    I ask all to be sensitive to the family and be mindful that the bond between the parents and their daughter can move mountains. Whether you believe in anything greater than ourselves or not, there is a huge part of us that is not physical and we need not ignore that. I call it spirit or soul. You can call it mind. All of it is incredibly powerful. Unless you are in this situation yourself, it's very hard to understand what really goes on between the coma patient and those around her.

    My mother has been in a coma for three months now. We talk to her, pray with her, read to her, play music and we pamper her with her favorite body lotions and face creams. We believe she hears and feels us. We have no idea what the final outcome will be, but we do know that the love and care we are giving her right now are very meaningful to her and to us. We are working hard on establishing communication with her. We don't ignore the times when she wiggles her toes when we're about to give her a foot massage, or when she opens her left eye when we tell her we love her.

    Doctors spend two minutes a day with the patient...if that! The family is there all day. The doctors miss out on all the communication because they assume that if they ask for a blink and they don't get it right there and then, the patient is simply unresponsive. It's not the case with the family. This is why we document everything our mother does. We give all that feedback to the neurologist and he takes notes.

    The ex-husband is only thinking of himself. It's inconvenient for him to take the kids to see their mother. This mother could benefit tremendously from her children's visits. Her body may be challenged, but trust me, she is very aware of everything going on around her.

    I've recently met many people who have awakened from comas. ALL of them encourage me to keep talking to my mom and to keep pampering her. I encourage all who are in this situation to follow your instincts and not let any negative energies divert your course. You and only you know what is best for your loved one. Whether our loved one comes back to us or goes to God, the life lessons learned in the process and the love we have expressed to them are priceless. Those are things that will always remain with us, even after we drop this body.

    July 8, 2010 at 19:37 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Ada

      Linda, thanks so much for sharing your story. A friend's sibling was in a coma and thats exactly what she said. God kept him around for 2 years and it taught us so much about resilience, love and faith. My friend spent almost a yr by her brother's bedside and saw many things that the hospital staff never noticed. There is a lot of power in non verbal communication.
      Your mom is blessed to have you! Continue to speak life into her, read healing Bible scriptures. Let no one shed a tear or say anything contrary in her midst. She'll one day rise to share her testimony! God bless you!

      March 26, 2011 at 00:54 | Report abuse |
  2. Cheri

    This story made me cry. How tragic that a lovely woman who wanted nothing more than to have children suffered such and injury during childbirth. To add insult to injury the man who was supposed to love her threw her away like yesterday's garbage and won't let her see the truth of her greatest wish, her children. Brain damage does not necessarily indicate no cognitize ability. Nor, does it mean one cannot have a realationship. At nine my nephew had two strokes which left him quadriplegic with locked in syndrome. Alex, who is now 16, speaks with his eyes. You just have to learn how to speak with him. Sort of like 20 questions. He lives at home where he can enjoy the fruits of a loving and devoted family. To do otherwise is cruel. Abbie deserves the oportunity to share in the lives of her children. Her children deserve no less. God bless Abbie and her babies.

    July 8, 2010 at 19:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. susanna

    This is the second time I have seen this story and it is truely heartbreaking. How can a husband, a father deny the woman he one day loved and took the decision to have these children with now deny her the right to see them and be a part of there life. I in no way think it would harm the children, how could the vision of your mother harm you, no matter who your mother is, it doesn't matter. What will these kids be raised to think? That they sprouted out of no where? My mother was taken from me due to a terrible illness that left her completely paralysed and without the ability to communicate. I would have suffered not being by her side and even though it is difficult to see the one you love in a hospital bed it also feels good to be with them and be a companion, talk to them, touch them. I firmly believe they can feel and they know you are there and you are consoling there heart with your visit. Please don't deny this poor woman that opportunity, she may not be physically there but she still has a heart and I can assure you she can feel. Soooo sad, I wish we could help out some how

    July 8, 2010 at 19:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. mary

    Saw this once before. It is clear the guy has moved on, and does not want to keep this woman in his life.
    Had he of brought the kids to see their mom there is nothing about this that would traumatize them..Kids adapt..This is mom and they would accept this..
    When they got older they would love feeling that they might have brought a little joy into their mother's life.
    This guy has no idea how angry they will feel that they lost that opportunity..
    He needs to quit being selfish and really think of his kids. Instead all he is doing is making up excuses he hopes others will go for..Cause 'he' simply wants to move on and forget her.

    July 8, 2010 at 19:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Rainu

    Very well said Cricket, I agree with you. On a humane level you can not deny a mother or child their love or bond – its up to them to decide if they (in this case the children) wish to continue a relationship with one another rather than the ignorant dad who is making unnecessary, selfish and cruel decision. This way when the children grow up there are no regrets as the cards are on the table and nothing hidden.

    July 8, 2010 at 19:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Allison

    Absolutely she should be able to see her children and they her. As the wife of a brain injured husband, I know how important that interaction is for everyone involved.

    July 8, 2010 at 19:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Sherri

    As we do not fully understand the brain and can not say what Abbie can comprehend, why should she not be able to see her children and in turn her children know their mother. She is not a threat to them and they will love her no matter her condition.

    July 8, 2010 at 19:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Auriel

    This Mom should be able to see her children. They love her she is their Mom.
    This Mom would immediately get better and have a desire to live.
    Feeling the kisses that children so freely give and the touch of their little hands will certainly make her well
    The children should be brought to see Mom many times.
    Her husband is a selfish evil man who should be removed and the Grandparents bring up the children

    July 8, 2010 at 19:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Audrey

    I think those children need to see their mom. If they visit her from a young age, they won't be traumatized...they'll just think of the situation as normal, and will come to love her as she is. What, does he think it's going to be easier to wait until they're 10 or 12 and then say (to little ones who, at that age, are desperate for a relationship with their parents) "Hello...this is your mom! She can't talk or walk or hug you, but she's what you've got."

    And, as far as the mom goes, if there's the remotest chance that she's aware, keeping her children away is beyond cruel.

    I say bring them together now, while there's still time for the children to bond with her as she is.

    July 8, 2010 at 19:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Kim

    This situation is heartbreaking for everyone involved. Being a new parent with 3 newborn infants and a seriously ill wife is tragic and I can't even imagine how overwhelming it must have been. That being said children respond to these kind of situations in the way that we teach them to by our own behavior. My children spent time with my mother when she was dying and very ill at the ages of 6, 4, and 16 months. They weren't frightened by her because we didn't act frightened and we explained things to them on their level. Now, 8 years later, the two older children treasure the time they spent with her. For much of that time she was in a near coma state- but they are still grateful for those memories. It is up to the grownups to define the situation to the children and to help them understand what is going on in ways that are age appropriate.

    July 8, 2010 at 19:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Vixen

    These children are 4 years old now, not much longer and they will be in school. What happens when they are in computer class and decide to "google daddy"? Selfish man to keep these kids from their mother, it will come back to bite him in the rotten spot.

    July 8, 2010 at 19:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. AshannaK

    Dr. Gupta: Maybe this will help. When you are in a battle between your heart and your head, follow your head.
    Follow reason; for it will always help you attain what your heart desires. If you feel it is right for this woman to
    see her children, even by a photograph, then fight for it. Give this lady a real reason to live. For a mother's love
    is stronger than any medicine. And, the Lord willing, she'll see those children and 'come back'.

    July 8, 2010 at 19:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Aradhana

    No matter what her condition is, she is the mother and she has all the rights to meet with her kids. I would like to ask her ex-husband, what if the same thing happened with him. He thinks that by allowing his kids to meet her, would damage their personality, but he should think again as who knows one day his kids would hate him for not allowing them to meet their mom.

    July 8, 2010 at 19:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. ddaggar

    of course they should see their mother...if he had made her a part of their life all along, there wouldn't be anything to worry about. kids love for no reason without condition. adults change that in them. he is a jerk!

    July 8, 2010 at 19:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Paula

    There is no debate here of life support. She is in the condition she is, she is alive and her kids need to know that. She exists and the kids need to know that. If a child is disabled, retarded etc would you then prevent other siblings from living with that child. Children will benefit much more from knowing they have a sick mother than not knowing her at all.

    July 8, 2010 at 19:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Kaylan

    Yes, the mother has the RIGHT to see her babies. To deny her that is cruel and a crime in my opinion. To me, this is discrimination: denying a disabled person the right to see and be with their children. This mother gave her all and she should have been able to be near her babies from the very beginning! I am so glad Dr. Gupta took up this case himself. I love many of the articles here because he has a compassionate heart. I pray Dr. Gupta can help this poor woman. No mother with such a big heart and huge sacrifice should be denied her babies. Fight for her, Dr. Gupta. Thank you...from mothers everywhere!

    July 8, 2010 at 20:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Katherine

    I think the children are a little young to be blaming themselves for her condition. And when they get older, they will blame themselves regardless of whether or not they ever meet her. They are, however, old enough to be scared of her and her lack of communication. I don't know if they would be or not, I'm just saying its a distinct possibility. Four is a very impressionable age.

    July 8, 2010 at 20:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Shayna

    The kids will one day regret not having experienced their mother, regardless of how seemingly incommunicative she is. The father will one day regret having left his children with such a regret. Children need their mothers. A mother needs her children. Period.

    July 8, 2010 at 20:06 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Katherine

      A mother doesn't necessarily need to be related to the child they raise. Hasn't the father remarried?

      I'm not arguing that the mother has a right to see her children. I'm just wondering if its best for the children to see her like this, at this age. If they were two or six I'd have a different opinion, but like I said before, four is a very impressionable age. Old enough to see and remember, too young to understand. Old enough to get the wrong idea, too. The daughter (if they is a daughter) might think that she will grow up to be like that. Especially if she has been told that she looks like her mother.

      July 8, 2010 at 20:41 | Report abuse |
  19. Emily Dye

    If the father had been bringing the children in from infancy, to spend a few minutes every few weeks with her, it would be no big deal. But now that he would have to introduce the children to a strange person in a strange situation, it's dicey. However, most 4-year-olds have enough curiosity to be brought into an unusual but loving and safe situation and make the most of it. He would not even have to tell them the disabled woman is their mother, but simply say, We're going to visit out friend Abbie, because we love her and care about her." The children can simply spend a few minutes playing in the vicinty of Abbie's bed or chair. They do not need to interact with her or talk about her if they don't want to. Questions will come over time, and the children should get honest, kind, loving answers. I would bet that if the children had been part of Abbie's life from the beginning, she would be doing a little better. The children's father seems fearful and ill-equipped to deal with the situation. After all, there's no rule book for such things. The mother did nothing to deserve being estranged from her children. She's suffered greatly and the additional punishment of being shut out of her children's lives is senseless. Maybe she is not comprehending anything around her, but just in case she is, she deserves the comfort of her childrens' presence.

    July 8, 2010 at 20:07 | Report abuse | Reply
    • kateface

      This response is fully dimensional. Compassion and empathy are needed in this case. Also the absolute reality that what is, is. It cannot be escaped. This reality should not be contrived to the offspring. No need for brutal honesty, but heartfelt orientation to this condition for them.
      The good news is, all parties are coming from genuine, sincere concern for all. This will win out. Let the good prevail.

      July 8, 2010 at 20:39 | Report abuse |
  20. sara

    Heartbreaking that the grandparents are choosing to fight the father of their grandchildren. They should appreciate and support the fact that he is raising them. I have children this age, and I can assure you he can use all the help he can get. He has enough to contend without the aggravation of being forced to do something he clearly knows will be damaging to his children. It does not take a rocket scientist to know that visiting their mother could be traumatic for these toddlers. I think the mother would want what is best for her children as well and since there is a father he should decide.

    July 8, 2010 at 20:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Tresa, Michigan

    Dr. Gupta–My husband had heart attack followed by a stroke caused by a blood clot in his heart, he was 62. Being on the far side of this incident, I can honestly say that too much was done to save his life at the time. That being said, I learned alot taking care of him. A lot had to be done to get his attention, but it could be done. Per the Doctors at the time, he would only live 3 or 4 days at most. He lived 4 and half years with all the energy I had to give and more. He was also supossed to be non-cognative. Well I can't help but believe that non-cognative shouldn't be able to pick it's head up off the pillow and kiss me.(Being the wife.) But he did, right up too and including the day he died. I think alot of people with brain damage have good days and bad days. And they also are going to respond to a relative before they every respond to a stranger. But having been through this devastaging experience I know I could only see what I wanted to see–maybe not what was actually true. How does the above patient react to seeing other children? I saw my husbands eyes and face turn to follow childrens voices. Done the right way, these children could see their mother.
    And they are so young, that I can't believe it would have any detrimental affect. But they shouldn't be forced. Tough situation all around.

    July 8, 2010 at 20:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Orphaned by my mother

    My mother killed herself when I was five, two years after my father died. All of my life I was hidden from her life and death and all that did for me was create a very deep sense of guilt. As a child I dreamed that my mother was not dead and hoping instead that she was in a hospital or jail some where. Anywhere but dead. Please do not do this to the children. Let them grow up knowing their mother and the sacrifice she made for them. Give them the chance to say they love her. Hiding the truth will only make them damaged adults. Trust me on this one. The sooner she is part of their life, the easier it will be for them to adapt and accept. Do not isolate them away from her family as my own family did to me.

    July 8, 2010 at 20:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. ashley

    The mother should have been able to see her children ALL ALONG. It would be perfectly normal to the children had they been brought up from brith knowing their mom, no matter what her condition. Shame on the father for doing otherwise. Even now, they should be able to get to know her. My 3 1/2 year old has interacted with several adults that have severe mental disabilities. I explain that they can't talk, or can't talk very well, but they understand what we say (even if I am not positive that they can, because you never know.) She will talk to them, and say hi to them when she sees them, and talks fondly of them when they are not around. Kids love everyone. These kids will not blame themselves if they are told the whole story at an appropriate time and age. If the father doesn't know how to go about doing that, he can seek consult from a therapist or other professional.

    July 8, 2010 at 20:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Raye

    She should most definately see her children. It would be SO damaging to the children to keep such a secret from them that their mother is still alive, even if she isn't fully aware or able to communicate. It's in everyone's best interest for the children and mother to be carefully and thoughtfully connected with each other.

    July 8, 2010 at 20:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Raye

    Sara, there would not need to be anything "damaging" or "heartbreaking" about putting the children and mother together if it was done appropriately. Children at this age are actually much more able to cope with, and accepting of differences, than older children are.

    July 8, 2010 at 20:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Susan

    They should absolutely be able to know their mother. The beauty of children and parents is the unconditional love they possess. It is discriminating the the disabled woman not to be able to see her children. Legally, I dont think the dad has a leg to stand on in this issue. He is also lacking moral judgment not allowing the children to know their mother. The kids will grow up and hate him for that. It will build resentments towards the father and Im sure he wouldnt want that. But, this isnt about the father. It is about the children and their MOTHER, she has every right to know and love her children. A child can sense feelings from a parent, so even if the mother cant communicate verbally, that doesnt mean she cant show them feelings of love. The father obviously lacks any compassion for the woman he use to be married to and supposedly loved. What a cruel individual hiding behind the pretense that the children would be harmed emotionally. He is doing more harm than knowing their mother ever could!

    July 8, 2010 at 20:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. Dana

    well, you wanted opinions, and no one has said one that aligns with mine, so....I don't believe in IVF or in multiple births, so in "my" world she wouldn't have had more than one baby, and maybe she wouldn't have bled out; but if she had, and she was in this state, I would, yes, take the kids to see her and say "This is what she is now, it was an accident and doctors couldn't fix her." The husband went along so he is culpable too, as are the "fertility" vultures. What's most sad is that our phobic and squeamish country feels that every single human organism must continue to live live live, no matter what, even when resources are all but gone, and even when quality of life is horrific. She had her progeny; they have a father; she was very unlucky and now she's done. Keeping her alive is for the sake of the therapists and experimenters and ghouls who hover and wipe and dose and suck and pray. It's despicable. Death comes to every living thing. Refusing to accept or even abet it will be the death of all of us, not too far in the future.

    July 8, 2010 at 20:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. JD

    I am of the opinion that the children should see their mother, though for their sake and not for their mother's. She is in a vegetative state and it wouldn't make a difference if it was her children that visited her or the president of the united states. It's a cruel world we live in that forbids the painless euthanasia of the suffering and lifeless, but allows for animals to be gently freed of their pain and suffering. I know I wouldn't want to exist in a non-existance like that. How sad..

    July 8, 2010 at 20:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. secret

    It's a sad story. The mother should see her children. Their father should explain to them once a while then they will understand. He has no right to stop the children to see their mother. I hope we will have fair system and make this happen for her to see her children. I will pray for her and her children.

    July 8, 2010 at 20:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. huh

    Gupta is a piece of trash. What a ambulance chaser.

    July 8, 2010 at 20:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. Marsha

    Absolutely the children and mother should be united. The key would be love and support, not a blame game. Why make one tragedy into another? This is a heartbreak for all involved, however, it doesn't have to be!

    July 8, 2010 at 20:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. Raye

    Dana, what does the history of whether or not the children were conceived through IVF have to do with whether or not they should now have contact with their mother???? Regardless, the children have been born and have a right to know their mother.

    July 8, 2010 at 20:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. Peggy

    I think the Mother has the right to see these children. She carried them in her womb and gave birth to them and the end result of the triplets birth is not the children's fault . The Father reminds me of the people out their who cannot handle imperfection in a human being, be it mental or physical! He should be ashamed of himself. But again their are men out their who do not take their Marriage Vows to mean in sickness and in health till death do us part!! No these men when something happens to thier wife run away and hide abandon them at thier greatest hour of need. .

    July 8, 2010 at 20:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. TK

    I work in neuro surgery as well; but as an ICU RN. I see cases similar to this every day. It has dug at my soul. Gupta shows he is a true neuro surgeon by not getting into the fine details of this case. It isn't trivial and we all, ultimately, must go home and sleep after we make important clinical decisions. As far as the patient assessment is concerned: I could care less what the JD thinks. Can the JD assess the difference between cranial 3 compression or corneal reflex? It is possible...I wonder how much money is involved after all the legal suits? I am concerned about the parents. How well have they been educated about patient assessment of a brain injury? Where is the ICU RN support to this patient's communication? I wonder how much exprience s/he has in neuro trauma? This patient–more than likely–had several RNs assessing her as well as several MDs. Where are they? Where are the MD's? I would love to have a talk with this "therapist" as s/he is the ONLY noted licensed professional who thinks the patient is actually communicating. Without their support, this therapist may be causing a lot of trouble...again, I am not at bedside and neither is Gupta. It is sad either way. Anybody wonder why Gupta works for CNN now and not practicing neuro surgery full time? 🙂

    July 8, 2010 at 20:29 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Katherine

      Probably because the money is better. That's why he turned down the position of Surgeon General.

      July 8, 2010 at 21:34 | Report abuse |
    • Katie

      TK - I am not sure what an ICU RN would offer. She is at home, and not in need of an ICU. I am also not clear from your poorly spelled, gramatically incorrect rant of the point you are making about Dr Gupta. He is the associate chief of neurosurgery at a major trauma center. He also happens to be one of the most talented journalists of our generation. It is clear he holds down both duties, very well. Instead of disparaging him in your opaque, convoluted post, perhaps you should give props, when they are due. Sounds like you have been dissed by doctors in your hospital, which is unfortunate. As a fellow nurse, I hate that feeling when it happens. Throwing out baseless insults and accusations is not the way to deal with it. By the way, what the heck is cranial 3 compression? Do you mean a 3rd nerve palsy? If so, you need to hit the books, instead of the blogs.

      July 9, 2010 at 11:02 | Report abuse |
  35. Allison Taylor

    I don't think anyone's analysis of Abbie's level of cognition has bearing on whether or not she legally has the right to see her children. While I can appreciate the people who are expressing concern that early exposure to their mother in this state might "scare" the children, it doesn't seem like these concerns are coming from people who have actual experience with children and their reactions to disabled persons. A few of the anecdotes here strongly indicate that if a child is adequately informed, and the adults involved don't act as if it's a huge issue, the children could well benefit from learnign abotu people's differences early on- but aside from that the more basic point being that the opportunity to know their mother might be lost from them should she pass away. That would be Tragic. As for the divorce, there's plenty of that among couples when neither party is greviously injured. It sounds like the man simply isn't able to accept her as she is now and wants to move on with someone who can fully participate in his life and be a partner in raising the children- it is a sad, but understandable situation. Let's just hope his inability to deal with Abbie's condition doesn't mean that he'll tranfer that same sentiment to his children...

    July 8, 2010 at 20:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. Amanda

    How are the children ever going to learn to accept and treat handicapped people if they are not allowed to see their mother? it would be the best place to start.

    July 8, 2010 at 20:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. Matt

    It is a mistake for the father to keep them from their mother. For one to think so little of your children to think that they would be so traumatized by seeing their own mother that it would put them down a dangerous past is preposterous and selfish. I also don't think this guy is really thinking too much into the long term. When the children grow up, might they be a little resentful that their father kept them from ever knowing their mother in the slightest way. I think so.

    July 8, 2010 at 20:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. SireneB

    Of course her children should have regular visits with her. It's sad that the question even has to be asked.

    July 8, 2010 at 20:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. jeanne

    I agree with Cricket, but I also believe that the children will eventually know about their mother, and they will question their father's decision. This may or may not result in them alienating themselves from him. I know I would resent my father if he kept me from my mother disabled or otherwise. I think there is something very wrong with the father and his decision to keep these children away from their mother.

    July 8, 2010 at 20:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. Raye

    What a tragedy to keep the children apart and one day, have to explain to the children, why they never got to meet their living and breathing mother. That would be a tragedy.

    July 8, 2010 at 20:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. Raye

    TK, what does any of that have to do with whether or not some small children should see their mother????

    July 8, 2010 at 20:38 | Report abuse | Reply
    • TK

      Because the JD, parents and therapist think the patient is communicating. That is an integral part of "their" argument of whether or not "she" should see her children; as opposed to Gupta's questions. Can she see? Can she hear? Gupta is asking questions that seem a bit different than the origional question of the family. It is possible I've seen a bit too much to
      BTW: Grady has an up and comming neuro surgery unit. They just invested 20mil to exapnd it. I know the amount of time it takes to be a "full time" neuro surgeon. This is only speculation based on my experience but I suspect the use of residents, med students and a university setting allows any neuro surgeon to change the amount of time actually spent practicing rather quickly so other activities can be pursued. Whether or not you want to call that full time. Truth is, we have neuro surgeons on our staff who I've never seen. It isn't that they are not active or blazing trails. It's just that they have a life outside of medicine; hobbies ect. Gupta's profession isn't ENT or Ortho. His profession is highly intense requiring a 7 year residency plus fellowships. I've seen health care professionals (MDs included) enter a head trauma unit and leave crying. Maybe I've seen too much and worry those kids may see too much too fast. I can not see the video so I am somewhat out of the loop and do not have the same information you have...None of that is really important to the article I guess.

      July 8, 2010 at 22:10 | Report abuse |
  42. Raye

    TK. maybe you should read Sanjay Gupta's profile....


    July 8, 2010 at 20:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. Karen

    OMG! I am incredibly heartbroken by this story. I was in a terrible car accident when my grandchild was 7 months old. She will never have me run behind her or know me when I was "normal" as I was left physically disabled. Although I am not mentally fractured in any way, the thought that my grandchild could be "kept" from me out of fear because of my disability is not only horrific, but just WRONG! My now 4 year old precious, recently diagnosed AUTISTIC granddaughter is one of the most caring children and somehow understands I am different also. She holds MY hand when we go anywhere, carefully watches out for me (never running away from me), takes delight in caring for my "boo-boo," gives me UNCONDITIONAL love that matches nothing in this world. No one has considered keeping us from each other out of "concern." Trust me when I say that real love is communicated at levels sometimes human comprehension cannot reach. This woman and her children can and will communicate that love to each other if given the opportunity. It can only be a win-win for all.

    July 8, 2010 at 20:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. Sonya

    It's a crime not to let her see her kids! She lost so much of her life attempting to bring them into the world. She should be able to see them because it think it will do all of them good to see each other. Maybe it would even help her to recover. I wonder if there was a law suit. How could the hospital have let her go so long without a blood transfusion?

    What an incredibly selfish father to deny his children the chance to spend any time with their biological mother. Someday this woman will be gone and the children WILL resent their father for keeping her from them when they could have spent some time with her had he not interfered. I lost my father before I was born so I never knew him at all. Believe me, it's devistating for a child to lose a parent at such a young age. This father has no idea the harm that he is causing his children by keeping them from knowing their mother regardless if she has brain damage. As a child I would have gladly jumped at the chance to have visited my father alive in any condition inside of a hospital instead of visiting his grave stone once a year!

    July 8, 2010 at 20:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. Bill

    I think the father's reaction is typical of how a spouse might react. He thinks it will traumatize the children they will think they caused mom to be in the vegetative state. It all depends on how he prepares the children for a visit and what he says to them.

    It is best to keep it simple -"Mommy's heart stopped and oxygen did not get to her brain. This resulted in her being only able to blink." He can show them a picture of her to prepare them.

    I would be concerned that as they get older and begin to understand that mom was or is alive and dad will not let them she her they might become angry at their him. Their anger will be justified.

    July 8, 2010 at 20:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. Richard

    not enough video or information to make this kind of decision for impressionable children. I am a Dad, a single Dad. This is such a sad situation but it is up to the courts. Not the court of opinion. My Brother was murdered and if he would have been brain dead I am sure his two daughters(one was not born when he was killed)would have seen him. the oldest has always blamed herself and I am sure the youngest does too in some way. I love them both dearly. I will not judge this Dad as harsh as I have read...He IS raising his children, that in itself tells me he aint all bad. As far as suing for some of the money, it takes cold hard cash to raise children...the lack of it can be a danger itself. Those that judge may have access to monies me and this Dad do not. If the mother were of right mind would she deny this to her children.....who is then? I would call them selfish. I would take them to see there Mommy of that I am pretty sure, lots of factors come to mind like how far is it and could I afford it. My first priority is my son, and it is expensive just for us two to travel....he has three just out of diapers!

    again, not enough information.....I will pray for them......Good Luck to the "Daddy" if you are reading this.....all the advise in the world is just that...do what you feel you have to do, I would caution you as others have that they may blame you later on that they did not get to see her.........good luck Sir!

    July 8, 2010 at 20:52 | Report abuse | Reply
    • ethel

      it is better to expose the children now rather than later. the blame game is not the factor, it's the selfishness attitude and the fear of the unknown. children nowadays they mature quickly. at four, they already have the capability to understand by introducing the facts slowly and interactively, but wait to introduce the cause until they are 12.

      the mother and the children have rights to bond them together. that's what family is all about: love, caring and sharing.

      Set aside selfishness, fear and arrogance, let LOVE interfere.

      Set aside differences and work it out as normal individuals. Prevail compassion for the mother who loves her children and for children who loves their mother. Single DAD share love. I know it is hard and difficult but share. It takes two to dance a tango.

      July 8, 2010 at 22:31 | Report abuse |
  47. Raye

    I agree – the key to this is the preparation of the children prior to the visit. This does not have to be a tramatic event for anyone involved. I think this comes down to a power struggle and losing site of what could be a positive encounter for everyone involved.

    July 8, 2010 at 20:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. Caroline

    I find it very disturbing that the husband divorced Abbie. So much for "till death due us part." It's terrible that he is keeping the kids away from Mom. Imagine the conversation when he has to tell them their Mother is alive. I am curious about the relationship between Abbie's parents and the triplets.

    July 8, 2010 at 21:02 | Report abuse | Reply
    • B

      Caroline: As far as till death do us part goes, if I was personally in the state that Abbie is in I would not expect my husband to stay married to me. I know this is hard to believe but if I was comatose like Abbie I would definitely want my husband to find someone to spend his life with and be happy.

      July 8, 2010 at 22:29 | Report abuse |
  49. Jim

    You know what this is , I know you know it but let me say it, this is the typical Politico- Corporate American BS, the father has been ofcourse misguided by this establishment. I agree with some one above, that one day they will find out but you know what will actually happen then, all or some of them will go into deep depression and guilt then they will be prescribed large doses of antidepressants ( FYI – half of the top 10 selling medications in US are antidepressants) and for a while they will be runing around smiling and then one or more of them will snap and attempt self anhilation and then will be sent to psych hospital involantary in ambulance in sheriif's company and will require one to one supervision and lots of doctors visit and lots of nursing staff to take care of them and some one will publish a research paper about them and some one will write article about them and in the end they will end up sustaining lots of healthcare jobs and US economy and it will be win -win for politicians and corporations by screwing hard working Americans.

    July 8, 2010 at 21:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. kevin

    this is very sad. no parent should want or be allowed to keep their kids from the other parent. if there was positive and confirmed abuse of some sort then I would understand limited access. this is what our judicial systems doe's to families.shame on the father.

    July 8, 2010 at 21:03 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Melissa

      You don't even know the half of it. This stellar father even went so far as to sue is ex-wife (i.e. her legal settlement) for child-support. This story was on cnn a number of weeks ago.

      July 8, 2010 at 22:14 | Report abuse |
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