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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 (680 Responses)
  1. SANDY W

    The Dad probably left becuase, he knew his wife had good care. He had triplets to care for. Don't judge until you are in that position.

    July 8, 2010 at 23:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. angela Mancuso

    wow – so glad I am in the majority here. These children will end up hating their father years from now if he continues keeping them from their mother. Not only that, but given she seems to be otherwise healthy, the minute they are old enough they will just seek her out on their own, as do many adopted kids. Everyone wants to know their parents. It is a key to who we are and where we came from. And what about their grandparents? Are they forbidden to see the kids as well? What kind of man does this when his wife basically gave her life for those children? A very selfish one. this is his issue, not the childrens.

    July 8, 2010 at 23:46 | Report abuse | Reply
    • kody

      If the mother is still alive in another decade and the young adults decide that they want to meet their mother then they should because they will be able to decide for themselves. That is an entirely different scenario though. If your proposed future was the present then this story is not a CNN headline.

      July 9, 2010 at 00:05 | Report abuse |
  3. Mike Lafond

    Well we need to see pass what has been said so far, in my opinion. Facts are that he is divorce from her. So we must assume that he has been in another relationship (maybe for some time now) chances are that the children being so young probably refer to her as, Mom! They don't know who their real mother is so he is not trying to protect the children from their mother and/or them being affected by what they would see! He is simply trying to protect his own actions...

    July 8, 2010 at 23:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Ivy

    I bet this (inherently dangerous and unnatural) multiple IVF pregnancy was the product of "we don't want to adopt, neeeeeedz to pass on our speshul DNA and have our OWN baybeeee!" and then later some "we can't IMAGINE selectively reducing... it's not GAWD'S WILL." See where screwing with nature gets you, people?

    July 8, 2010 at 23:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Jessica

    The woman appears to be in a permanent vegetative state, as she answers Dr. Gupta's questions randomly. I don't think that there is a person in her body anymore.

    All parents make imperfect decisions, and the father is just trying to look out for the welfare of his children. I think people should not be so quick to jump on him. If he also believes that his wife has gone to Heaven, and that only her body remains, obviously he thinks that there is no point in letting her children meet only the shell, of what once was their mother.

    If he thinks that the children should be a little older before they know what happened, people should respect that.

    July 8, 2010 at 23:50 | Report abuse | Reply
    • kody

      I totally agree!!!!!

      July 9, 2010 at 00:08 | Report abuse |
  6. Theresa

    Separating these children from their mother is heartless...Period

    July 8, 2010 at 23:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. av

    Children are amazingly resilient. If allowed to see her, they will most likely grow up accepting her as she is now. I believe that this will help with any guilt they may have in the future. If the kids do not see her until later, they will have to confront shock, guilt and anger most likely all at the same time. I believe that will do the children more pain if they are made to wait to see their mother.

    July 8, 2010 at 23:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Rich

    Every parent should see their children. There are enough children who feel like they have been abandoned already. Now is the time to introduce the children to their mother. As they aqe they will be better able to understand and accept the situation. The truth will help keep them from feeling guilty.

    July 8, 2010 at 23:55 | Report abuse | Reply
    • kelly B

      Oh Kody the likes of you are what's wrong with society.

      July 9, 2010 at 00:23 | Report abuse |
  9. kelly B

    Oh God my heart aches for her. What a tragedy! Why are we even having this conversation? It is a no brainer she should be allowed to see her children, and her children should be allowed to visit her. As for the husband, All I can say is that I believe in karma. He will be abandoned by loved ones and society in his most hour of need.

    July 9, 2010 at 00:03 | Report abuse | Reply
    • kody

      I find this post so ironic. You believe in karma? Are you trying to say that in the future people that do not know you will speak poorly of you. Maybe you are trying to say that "loved ones" and "society" will judge you without the facts. She will never see her children again no matter how much your hypocritical "heart aches".

      July 9, 2010 at 00:12 | Report abuse |
  10. Roz

    I am irritated by the actions of Abbies ex husband, which are morally repugnant. How quick he abandoned her and stole her children. Had the triplets been around their mother all along there would be no issue as to how to introduce them to their mother now. This situation is purely a fabrication of the father. As for their blaming themselves for their mothers injuries, they need not know till they are adults that it happened during birth, and either way, when they do find out, they will have to deal with that blame. So what exactly does separation from the mother achieve? I think only to feed the fathers ego.

    What little there is of Abbie, even if its only a debatable blink of an eye, those children have a right to that blink!

    July 9, 2010 at 00:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. KA

    Guys, this shouldn't be an issue at all; those kids are not the cause of Abbei's conditions and should not ever think it. If they do, they should be immediately corrected. Abbei is the way she is because of a complication that occurred during delivery, that could have happened to anyone. It's not her fault and it's not the kids fault either. What Abbei needs is her kids and what these kids need is their mother. They are both bound to benefit on several levels. Plus, kids tend to be very resilient; this is a non-issue for me. What seems particularly fishy is the fact that the "divorced" husband is the one creating all the resistance.

    July 9, 2010 at 00:17 | Report abuse | Reply
    • kody

      Maybe because the "divorced" husband is the one that is responsible for three children. Just a small example of the amount of responsibility this entails lies in poop. The average baby goes through about 8-10 diapers a day which is 24-30 per day for this guy. He may have changed roughly 20,000 diapers in the first two years. And he is their caregiver. The children depend on him.

      July 9, 2010 at 00:28 | Report abuse |
  12. Julie D

    I am adopted. There were no guarantees when I came into the world and there were no guarantees as to the fitness of my adoptive parents, only a judgement on the part of the Department of Social Services as to their fitness. Well the department of Social Services was wrong as to the fitness of my parents. Nonetheless, I still needed them in spite of their imperfection – emotionally... physically.

    These children need to know their mother. Full stop. Regardless of her cognitive abilities. She, in my mind, can do no harm. As long as she is alive, she will be a source of comfort to them. Ask any child who has lost a parent before that child has gotten a chance to remember them. Knowing any parent regardless of their ability to parent fills a hole in a child that no other can fill. It is difficult to explain.

    July 9, 2010 at 00:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Abigale

    She gave LIFE to these children.

    July 9, 2010 at 00:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. MB

    No question the children should have a relationship with their mother. Not sure they should have one with their worthless, evil, selfish father though. WOW, divorce the mother of your children when she didn't do anything except apparently have the nerve to have complications during birth. This guy should be worried about how his actions will scar his children. I can only hope no other woman is stupid enough to ever have a relationship with him.

    July 9, 2010 at 00:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. whatever

    These children should see their Mom. i find it extremely sad that the Dad took it upon himself to keep them from the person who loved them from their conception. Just because someone is disabled or disfigured or uncommunicative is not a reason to withhold the children from seeing and knowing their Mom. Even is she is not communicating the children should have been seeing Mom from the day he got them home- they would not have known her as a stranger then. As someone else said – children are very resilient and accepting – they will accept her now as long as Dad doesn't screw it up.They should be able to hug their Mom.Who knows – maybe just the kids' noises, giggles, screaming will jar something in Mom's brain- one never knows for sure.

    July 9, 2010 at 00:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. A. Nony

    It is amazing how, on the basis of such incomplete information, so many people are so certain that they know what is best for a family of total strangers, including three young children about whose personalities we know absolutely nothing. Are they confident, tough, resilient little people? Or timid and delicate? Are they well adjusted, or do they have psycholgical problems already? The most anyone can legitimately say is what he or she would want for him/herself, and for her children, in these conditions. And people legitimately differ in what they would want. To my mind, it makes an enormous difference
    whether there is a functioning brain - however poorly functioning - in this poor woman's head, however masked. An MRI
    could give more information than attempts to decode blinks. What has been done in this respect? WE DON'T KNOW. Can she even see? WE DON'T KNOW. WE KNOW ESSENTIALLY NOTHING about this situation, and we should stop leaping to judgment.

    July 9, 2010 at 00:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Hatter of Honolulu

    The mother may be "locked in", but the kids aren't going to understand. Not at age 4. I hope they show Momma pictures, but I'm pretty sure the kids would be negatively affected by such an experience. Don't bring the kids there, not only for their sake, but for the mother. If she sees them distressed, but is unable to help, how depressed would that make her?

    July 9, 2010 at 00:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Collin

    Hi Dr. Gupta. I'm not a doctor, but I'm not a dummy either. As many people have commented it is true that children are amazing adapters and they can assimilate just about anything. Mom is mom, no matter what condition she's in. I'm in utter shock that the father is even allowed to be taking this stance, he reeks of a classic....well what is referred to in the Spanish language as 'Machista' which is synonymous with which is a person who appears tough and macho but is really a coward. He's totally using this as a cop out instead of stepping up to the plate and sticking by his woman. Those kids have the God-given right to know and be with their mother, end of story.

    July 9, 2010 at 00:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Gerry

    Yes, of course the kids should see their MOM. However much I think that the dad is a jerk, I also think he is simply overwhelmed by the caring of three children who are the same age. He is probably feeling abandoned and alone. (Don't tell me he is remarried.) So, someone needs to set him straight, by having compassion for his feelings as well. Ohhh, my heart goes out to this poor woman.

    July 9, 2010 at 00:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. jantje

    at four years old, the children are still in their formative years, though not for much longer. they should be carefully prepared, with PROFESSIONAL assistance, and introduced to their mother as soon as possible. if this is not done soon, it will scar them permanently. of course, this may upset them, but to deny them understanding of, and access to, their natural mother, at this formative stage, will cause them much more damage later on.

    furthermore, the mother's basic human rights are being denied her. she made the ultimate sacrifice to give them life, and to be denied the opportunity of knowing them is the worst possible thing that her ex-"MONSTER" could possibly do to her. where is his sense of decency? where is his human compassion?

    July 9, 2010 at 00:52 | Report abuse | Reply
    • kody

      If you are blaming the father for the fact that the mother will never know her children then your blame is grossly misplaced.

      July 9, 2010 at 00:59 | Report abuse |
  21. whatever

    There are a lot of selfish, insecure, and nasty people who purposely withhold one parent's ability to see their children even though that parent does them no harm. It's not really a gender issue. Right now, the mother of my granchild has not let my son see his child for years. He has bipolar but is not violent – he is always compliant with his medication and if he feels ill notifies us or his doctor immediately. Yet, she refuses to let him have access to his daughter whom he has always loved very much. He pays child support every month but he no longer has any money left to fight her in court because she keeps moving from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.Now some of you may think this is justified because he has bipolar and you think he may be a threat (even though he has a spotless record and is teacher) but the irony is that this mom also is bipolar and is medicated and has many issues. The point I'm trying to make is that no parent should take away the other parent's right to love their children-the courts only do that if a parent is a threat to the child – in this case and in mine it is pure discrimination of the handicapped and their civil rights.

    July 9, 2010 at 00:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Dave

    It isn't a compelling story that raises a lot of important questions. It's one families nightmare with zero implications. The mother is minimally conscious at best, her parents are in a state of denial, and her husband is rigid and overly protective. If the family would like to bankrupt themselves taking care of a devastated person, fine, but let's not pretend this medical freak show/soap opera has anything else to offer.

    July 9, 2010 at 00:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Wzrd1

    Frankly, I didn't read the trolls and other idiocy.
    Doctor, did you REALLY examine her?
    I suspect not, as you didn't try to test if she TRULY was attempting to communicate. Since, you wish to rabble rouse, while presenting as a physician, your medical license should be reviewed by the ethics board!
    Is she in a persistent vegetative state? Is she suffering from "Locked in syndrome"? Is she in a comatose state? Is she brain dead?
    Does she have morro reflex?
    Glasgow coma scale?
    You sensationalized a case, whilst never presenting ONE thing beyond blinking, her medical condition!
    With no due respect to you, or by extension to your profession, based upon your behavior, you DON'T need a medical license! In ANY state in the union!
    You took a medical case that is, frankly, heartbreaking to ANY professional, then turned it into a family circus!
    Sir, give us the FACTS, beyond blinking, based upon sound clinical measurements and follow with your clinical training and experience and we'll rent your opinion, if not buy it.
    This was the most disgusting case of medical license abuse I've witnessed since the rape of a patient cases a few years back!
    Instead, you give commentary and innuendo with zero medical case information. A flagrant abuse of your license.
    I am going to set forward sufficient measures you NEVER have a license to practice in MY state tomorrow morning.

    July 9, 2010 at 00:58 | Report abuse | Reply
    • kody

      He may have been given permission to generalize on the notion of ethics in this type of case. He may have been given permission to use her as an example that could arouse a healthy debate on the topic. I doubt he can reveal all of the details that you mentioned most likely due to the fact that he was not given that permission. It is also not relevant to the public at large due to a poor understanding of technical medical jargon. I mean someone who understands would like to know but we can't all be like you, right? This post made me laugh because you are an idiot and I hope this post is just one big satire.

      July 9, 2010 at 01:09 | Report abuse |
    • NeuroMD

      Wzrd1 - You are a level 1 idiot. I am a neurologist and I dipped into this post. I am impressed with Gupta's ability to integrate a complex neurological problem into the lay public. He has presented a vexing problem that has plagues our community for as many years as I can remember, many years by the way. Had he presented the findings of her functional MRI or the state of her hippocampus, would you have even known what to do with that information. Gupta is a board certified neurosurgeon, who brings great honor to our profession. So, Wzrd1, leave the basement, have your mommie cook you dinner and zip it.

      July 9, 2010 at 01:53 | Report abuse |
  24. whatever

    dave – I'm assuming you aren't a parent or ........ human.

    July 9, 2010 at 00:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. RK

    Shame on this family for keeping the Mother and the children separated. Despite her state, she has a right to be with her kids and kids have a right to know their mother. If the family would have kept them together, the children would have been raised knowing their mother and even though she's not fully fuctional, they would know who their Mom.

    July 9, 2010 at 01:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. MKG

    The children won't be made to feel this is their fault unless the dad makes them feel this way. Does dad feel it is his fault for 'causing the pregnancy? This is in no way the children's fault anymore than if the family were in a terrible car wreck on the way home from the hospital. What if one of the children had disabilities? Would that be the other children's fault? Would that child be kept hidden from the others? That is what they did with retarded children 50 year ago. Have we gotten past that?
    This dad is missing a wonderful opportunity to raise children who are totally accepting of abilities and disabilities.
    What is he planning on telling them later? I think they will be angry and have more problems because he withheld so much from them. If she had died would he tell them about her. They will be far better off if they meet her now and are told that something happened to her after they were born.
    It is very sad and it doesn't need to be any more tragic. Maybe she can't relate but why even take a chance on missing it if she can. This really isn't a tough choice. I don't think the dad is thinking of the children he is just unable to handle what happened himself. He needs help.
    I think it is a very slippery slope legally. At what point do we cut off visitation because of disability? Nope can't visit mom she is blind,might be upsetting.

    July 9, 2010 at 01:12 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Ivy

      Dad didn't "cause" the pregnancy. A bunch of doctors with a turkey baster and test tubes got Abbie Dorn pregnant... with a quantity of children that occurs naturally in only 1 of every 8,000 pregnancies (and mind you, nature had already said that Abbie should have exactly ZERO biological children). Docs probably suggested selective reduction to make the pregnancy and delivery safer, and Abbie and Dan obviously said "no."

      If you read a little more into this case, you'll note that the first two babies were delivered without incident, but the doctors nicked Abbie's uterus when scooping out the 3rd kid.

      Three words, folks: Adoption. Living will.

      And to everyone that is calling the husband a money-grubber: Abbie's parents got control of her $8-million malpractice settlement and are blowing it to the tune of $33,000 a month on bullshit like massage (which is supposed to help her shriveled brain HOW?) and acutonics, which is acupuncture... with tuning forks. Dan wants that money set aside in trust for the triplets. Oh noez, what a douchebag!

      July 9, 2010 at 08:24 | Report abuse |
    • JG

      Ivy

      Perhaps if YOU'D read more about this case you would know that Dan Dorn also received a hefty sum for the care of his children and rightly so. As the mother of triplets myself, also conceived thru IVF, I can atest that children conceived with medical help are indeed VERY "natural". I'm guessing you've never experience fertility problems?? Just a guess.....

      I know what this woman went thru to conceive and carry these childrens – she must have wanted them deperately. Regardless of whether she can communicate her feelings now, she has every right and most probably, every desire to see her precious children. Likewise, those children should get to see and touch their mother. I certainly hope Dan Dorn changes his mind, or that a judge changes it for him.

      July 9, 2010 at 15:52 | Report abuse |
  27. 6Mil

    I have a friend who graduated from USAF Academy. He had a freak accident diving into a shallow pool. He effectively has Locked In Syndrone since 1995. He can only communicate via eye movement via the POW tap code. He has a fully functional mind and experiences emotions just as you and I. I do believe this woman can communicate with eye blinks and movement. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Locked-in_syndrome; It is sorrowful this woman has been deprived of visiting with her children.

    July 9, 2010 at 01:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Bijan

    There was a report of a patient which could communicate via imaging of the brain, he could answer yes or no by thinking about some action or another, which made a certain part of his brain light up in the FMRI. can't they do the same thing with her?
    http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE61261J20100203

    July 9, 2010 at 01:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. Sue

    The mother deserves to see her children just as they deserve to see her. Although the father doesn't agree that Abbie is communicating by blinking her eyes, you noted that there are many medical gray areas, especially with the brain. For all anyone knows, if Abbie is finally able to see her children it's possible that those visits could help stimulate her brain and improve her condition. The children have a right to know their mother, and if they are prepared appropriately I think they are young enough that they will accept her as she is. A counselor could also help with easing any fears or answering questions they might have. I think they will not forgive their father when they are older if he denies them what should be their basic right to see their mother, the person who brought them into this world. She may still be very aware of her surroundings even if she is unable to communicate in a normal way, and if that is the case it would be unbelievably cruel to deny her the right to see her children and to prevent them from being able to get to know her, as well.

    July 9, 2010 at 01:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. Sonia

    This woman should be allowed to see her children, mentally-able or not. The father of her children broke his vows by not sticking by her side in sickness and in health. Jerk.

    July 9, 2010 at 01:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. bestinterest

    Death, sickness, disabilities are all part of life. The children should know their mother...they should know how much their mother wanted them...undergoing IVF. What is the father afraid of? That his children will accept their mother, learn to care for her and treasure the time they still have with her. The father seems to be protecting himself not the children. It seems that he like so many in our society today believes that the disabled, old and not so perfect members of our society are lesser humans. This father is failing to look out for his children's best interest. Show me the literature that he will rely on when his children grow up and eventually finds out about their mother and feels overwhelmingly guilty that the woman who gave up so much to have them never saw them. Are the children to hate the DNA that the mother contribute? The physical resemblances that they share with her? This father is callous...his claim that a disabled mother is too disabled to be around her children but abled enough to hurt her children shows his shallowness. It scares me to think what this father will do if God forbid one of the triplet developed any form of disability...what will he do then????

    July 9, 2010 at 01:37 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Joann

      You bring up an excellent point, a "what if" one of the triplets develops any disability or illness. Would that make the child less in his eyes? This is just to sad.

      July 9, 2010 at 01:43 | Report abuse |
  32. Joann

    This is a wonderful (however sad and not normal) opportunity for the triplets to learn compassion for others. This woman is their mother. They will learn that not all mothers (or fathers) are the same, and some do have physical or mental issues. Granted, there is an adult discussion as to what the mother may or may not understand. It's not up to only one parent to decide what is best. These children have the right to know who there mother is, and later in life, be introduced as to what happened. And most importantly, they should NEVER be told or made to feel that THEY were the cause of their mother's unfortunate condition. They are not to blame. I feel it would be too easy for the father to infer this on them. That is where the true sadness would lie.

    July 9, 2010 at 01:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. Skot

    What no one is talking about is how ts all could have been prevented if this lady had just played the hand nature dealt her. IVF is an evolutionary step backward. If you as a woman cannot conceive, then do not circumvent nature and pay a doctor to impregnate you with way too many children. You are passing on poor genetics and tainting the pool because any child you give birth to will likely have the same problem. If this trend kept up, eventually there would be no natural conception.
    Additionally, if you are the type of person who believes that "life begins at conception", you will find yourself nonplussed at the fact that Fertility Clinics dispose of more embryos than abortion clinics. It's true, you can Google it.
    To conclude, why feel sorry or feel anything for that matter for people who are reaping the consequences of their actions. Would you feel sorry for a junkie who overdosed and messed themselves all up? Of course the children should not be allowed to witness this abomination to society. How shameful!

    July 9, 2010 at 01:47 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Tad Pole

      I read your comments and found myself stunned at your thoughts. Are you really sure that the problems she encountered during birth were directly (or even indirectly) related to her having not been able to concieve using traditional methods? And regardless of that fact, I wonder how it can be that compassion may only be given to those that have played no role in their situation. If we live life, and we make choices, some will certainly have unforeseen detremental outcomes. I can't imagine anyone would have been able to predict what happened to this poor woman. To judge her now, and to judge her so harshly and with such a condemming tone with comments like, "passing on poor genetics", makes me truely sad. I had hoped that mankind was moving beyond such primitive measures of value. Many of the world's greatest contributors had less than perfect genes. I think the only part where I can agree wtih you is on your closing sentence, albeit within a different construct, "How shameful!"

      July 9, 2010 at 02:03 | Report abuse |
    • giz

      I'm sick that I had to witness your abomination of a comment

      July 9, 2010 at 03:12 | Report abuse |
    • Skot

      These people made a CHOICE to enter into pregnancy (a medical condition) will full awareness of the possible outcome. No one forced them to go out of their way to make something happen that was not supposed to. The results were disastrous. It happens. I will not feel bad for the choices that others make with their bodies. It's not reasonable to do so. I never claimed that people who could not conceive were not important to society. Some may perhaps be even more important. Perhaps.
      What I did express was that circumventing nature to force the body to do something it was not naturally able to do is not the wisest of choices and can lead to bad results. Performance enhancing steroids are prime examples of this.
      Who should we as a society have compassion for? The whole of the species, or the infertile couple with the sense of entitlement? The world is overpopulated, there are THOUSANDS of children who need good homes. But two people in an unsteady marriage DECIDE to play god until mommy turns into a cabbage and leaves behind a brood of snot noses and an unsatisfied man and I'm supposed shed tears? Give me a break!
      And why is it that no one is talking about the disposed of embryos that I mentioned? Did we all find out I wasn't lying about that little tidbit? Nor did anyone argue my statement about how IVF could have long lasting effects on the course of evolution. What I did get was people judging me and then telling me not to judge. Curious notion that.
      I believe that we need to think on a scale a little larger than two to five people. The topic of IVF is on the very edge of eugenics and there are a lot of possibilities that are both wonderful and terrifying. But we need to ask ourselves what we are comfortable with. Many would say that a woman that has three abortions is a terrible human being, but in the same breath turn around and condone the infertile woman who let a IVF doctor throw away five embryos.
      So basically to argue that I'm heartless is to be heartless yourself. I'm for this woman NOT having kids and still being able to control her own bladder and you guys be for her having three kids and being an invalid. I'm for doctors NOT throwing away a truckload of dead babies everyday and you guys seem to be lining up to be the drivers. I want the human race to be made in bedrooms and you guys want them made in labs. Glad we are clear.

      July 9, 2010 at 04:35 | Report abuse |
  34. dany

    this man is a very mean spirited man. she did this IVF for him and her. today he is keeping the children for himself after divorcing her. my heart breaks for this woman. she has the right to feel her children. what kind of human being is this man?. Children Service should take those children away from him because he is teaching them discrimination and to become cold hearted human being like him. I pray the God that she get to see her children one day.

    July 9, 2010 at 01:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. MOHAMMED N. RAZAVI, DALEVILLE, AL

    We have so much technology now that we are confused about most everything except that we "ARE IN FACT GOD" Every one is as convinced about their being right , as they are confused, And more they are confused, the more self righteous, which shows up when they start talking in terms of what god thinks and wants. We know that given enough electric charges we can show that a paper sack has a functioning brain and is reacting to the stimuli. May be it is time the doctors and lawyers should stop playing god and his reps, and let research be carried on as research alone, not a treatment regimen or a proof of something or other( we should declare that we can keep the dead bodies appear to be living with enough machines and the continuation of chemical processes, not life), average person does not have the mental capacity to understand the nuances. They should not be placed in a position to be the judge ( and especially self aggrandizing judges for sure, , and keep the lawyers out by all means. thank you

    July 9, 2010 at 01:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. Tana

    It seems this father may have forgotten to ask himself a very important question, which is: If he were in her condition, perhaps from a car accident, major illness, or as a soldier who suffered brain damage as a result of an explosive trauma during war, how would he feel if his wife kept his children from knowing him. Chances are, if he had bothered to put his shoes on the right foot on the morning he awoke and decided he was not going to let the children know their mother, he may have done the sensible, compassionate , and unselfish thing in remembering his marital vows, "in sickness and in health, till death do we part." In this age of technology, it is most likely when the children become adults they will find out the true story about their mother from the internet, and come to realize who their father truly is, for no amount of explanation from him will ever satisfy their question of "Dad, how could you possibly divorce mom in the time that she needed you most?" It may be at that point in time that he himself may find out what it is to truly lose the love of your children, for surely, they will then not see him as a protective loving father or justify his actions during their youth, but perhaps view him as the monster they never knew.

    July 9, 2010 at 02:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. Susan Rueb

    I lead a non profit organization B. R.A.I.N. that advocates for brain injured individuals and their families. One of our friends is a young woman who had a very similar situation happen to her during childbirth last year. Her brain was without proper oxygen for at least 45 minutes. The attending nurse who had been trained in South Africa took over and administered the procedure of cooling the body temperature as is done for hypothermia to preserve brain function. It worked miraculously. She is continuing to improve. I am happy that Abby has parents who advocate for her. No matter what state the mother is in, she is still the mother of those children. Who is more vulnerable in this country than the brain injured? With a new injury happening every 21 seconds, why aren't we doing more to help these people? It can happen to anyone!

    July 9, 2010 at 02:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. Toby

    Yes. Mum should see her kids. Kids are strong. Cricket is right. Dad is full of sh*t. What else does the guy do? Stop them stamping on ants? Get over yourself, man.

    July 9, 2010 at 02:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. Anni

    It is a common condition for the disabled to be hidden away and made to feel inadequate and unimportant. The very systems put in place to help them are some of the most demeaning of all. The only reason this woman and her children are kept apart is because of her perceived lack of ability to communicate. What mother ever needed words to convey her love for her children? What child ever needed a touch to feel it's mother's love? This case speaks to the very ugly sentiment that the disabled have no inherent value and are intrinsically detrimental to those around them. There is nothing sadder than a motherless child, with the possible exception of a childless mother. Her husband abandoned her and stole her children. If she were not disabled, he'd be in prison for that.

    July 9, 2010 at 02:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. Robin Meadows

    That awful man divorced her then won't allow her children to come see her? How sad. It reminded me of the Terri Schivo case for a second. I'm glad her hubby divorced her instead of starving her! Let her see the kids!

    July 9, 2010 at 02:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. Ira

    Ofcourse yes, the children should be allowed to meet their mother. It's sheer injustice to keep a mother away from her children. She is already suffering and on top of that keeping her children away is cruelity.She was reduced to this state while giving birth. It's quite likely that being with her children might show some signs of recovery.

    July 9, 2010 at 02:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. Monika Dahiya

    I am a mother of a 19 month old. I strongly feel this "MOTHER" should be able to see her kids no matter what condition she is in. She's their mother for God's sake. How can that man be so cruel? First he left her at such a crucial moment of her life and now he isnt letting her kids meet her. It is unbelievable that such satanic selfish people are living on this earth too. If she sees her kids, you never know.. she may improve. Miracles do happen! I'll pray for her...

    July 9, 2010 at 02:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. Trevor

    The thing at stake is the children's ability to choose. On the one hand it's a father's duty to protect his children's mental state. This is a legitimate reason to shelter them from a potentially devastating visit with their mother. On the other hand, they may be young enough that they may not be disturbed by the image of their mother in a vegetative state. In any event, given a few more years the children should be allowed their choice of whether to see their mother or not. This is the only viable choice given that it can't be determined that Abbie is having and communicating her own wishes.

    July 9, 2010 at 02:36 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Trevor

      After more thought, regarding Abbie's choice, I wonder if her ability to express her desire to fulfill certain rights/privileges isn't the predominant issue at stake. Simply because she can't express doesn't mean she forfeits those rights. It can probably be assumed she would like to see her children. Here's the downside of fulfilling her wish. If Abbie is choosing to see her children and they have a negative reaction leading to not wanting to see her, she'll have to deal with that disappointment.

      July 9, 2010 at 02:44 | Report abuse |
  44. dad

    ok, let me have a scathing. i disagree with taking the kids. i have two daughters. personally if i was in the situation of this poor lady i would not want my kids to see me. it is very sad what she went through. but to the mind of a four year old, they may even blame themselves for causing their mom to be this way. guilt has a strange way of being taken on. if it was me, stop feeding me and let me go. she brought children into this world. life is difficult and cruel in nature itself. people keep forgetting this. we can't live forever, none of us. let the kids have a fresh start and a new life.

    July 9, 2010 at 02:37 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Karen

      To dad....I can appreciate your point of view. But I doubt a woman who risked so much, carried those babies for 9 months, and now is unable to communicate...would think as you would. Any woman to put herself through so much to have babies would not be so selfish as to turn them away. And no, the kids wouldn't take on guilt if they were surrounded by supportive, intelligent, sensitive adults to guide them through. If anything, they are now more likely to develop the guilt of never having know the woman who made the ultimate sacrifice. This might be a disposable society in terms of food and possesions, but we are not so empty to include people. You can't hit 'delete' on sections of life that scare us. This woman is part of their story and they are part of hers. She has a right to see those children until she expresses otherwise and/or the children voice their desires. What if tomorrow you were in Abbie's shoes and your wife divorced you and wouldn't let your children visit you? What if in spite of your inability to communicate you felt devastated and had to accept it as Abbie must right now? Saying you wouldn't want your kids to see you is not an admirable declaration. It's something someone says when they are more focused on how they feel than how they truly care what others feel. What kind of children are you raising that they would not want to visit, know and love their father and be willing to start fresh with another dad? I can't believe for a moment your children would cut you out of their lives if you became like Abbie. This may be more apparent to you someday should you get dementia and need them to care for you.

      July 9, 2010 at 03:41 | Report abuse |
  45. Debi

    This is a heart wrenching story.
    The father other than worrying about emotional traumatizing ( his opinion) is not comprehending how versitle children are. How is the father going to deal with teenagers who find out he kept them from their Mother all these years? Teenagers are less forgiving! Then I wonder if he is not allowing them to see their Mother because he wants them to accept another female as their Mom?
    My Father kept us from my Mother, she was alcoholic. Although now I understand. But at age 11 I thought my Father was the most selfish mean man on the face of this earth! It took me until I was in my 40's to make peace with him!
    I a Nurse and I take care of "Special Needs" children in a Home Care setting. It amazes me how resilient children are in accepting their Mother and Father as is. (Selfish,Verbally abusive, neglect, etc etc).
    I vote, allow the children to see their Mother. Answer questions at their level of understanding. If it is upsetting then back off! Introduce them again when they are a few years older. But by all means be honest as to what happened to their Mother when they ask! The graphics can be left out. A simple she died due to complications in delivery. Details can be dealt with when they truly can comprehend.
    The Mother's family can show pictures of the triplets Mother and tell them about her as well!
    I pray no one ever places blame on those triplets because of the Mother's high risk pregnancy!

    July 9, 2010 at 02:37 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Debi

      This is an excellent example to make your wishes known! Advanced directives would have helped greatly in this situation!
      Medical power of attroney as well!

      July 9, 2010 at 02:47 | Report abuse |
  46. AndreaH

    That there is any question as to whether Abby should see her kids or vice versa is completely confusing to me. Of course they should be visiting her and knowing she's their mom.

    Seriously CNN .. adverts where one clicks Post? how annoying!!

    July 9, 2010 at 03:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. giz

    It seems to me that there is a fairly straight-forward way to test this. They have computer programs that allow people that are "locked out(which it seems she might be) to communicate just by using their eyes. Or am I over simplyfying this?

    July 9, 2010 at 03:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. Techrat3D

    A hardship for any family. My sympathies go to them.
    The husband acted wrong for divorcing her though. "For better or worse..."
    Though reports like these remind me that I need to have my will changed, so that if I EVER end in such a state, I want them to pull the plug!
    That is not living, but suffering. A doctor should know when to quit.
    You just sometimes have to let go, no mater how much it hurts.

    July 9, 2010 at 03:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. bestinterest

    Guilt, confusion, sadness, happiness and all the other emotions that human experiences is what gives us our humanity. The children if allowed to see their mother may experience some or all of the above but if the environment is created so as to allow them to experience these feeling without being overwhelmed the kids will grow emotionally and not only learn to accept the hand that they were dealt but also embrace the life lesson that comes with it...developing compassion, patience etc. I hope that the father finds it in his heart to see the grandparents as parents too that whether rightly or wrongly are doing what they feel is right for their daughter and allow the grandparents to bring the part of mother to the children that he cannot and will not...whether that be stories of their mother as a kid or similarities in the grandparents' personalities that might be similar to the mother. Divorcing the mother when she is disabled and cannot fight for herself is not only heartless but teaches the children that the disabled and the sick in our society are to be discarded and deserves no loyalty. Whether a machine is keeping the mother alive or not still allows the children the opportunity to hug her or touch her something that will be gone forever once she is 6 feet under. The father can try all he wants but he will never be able to change the fact that mother is part of the children and has done nothing wrong to justify his terminating her parental rights...even if she cannot fight for them!!! The father on the other hand may not only have avoided his responsibility to the mother but failed to protect the children by not being able to deal with his guilt in encouraging her to have IVF. divorcing her, and alienating the children from their mother. What a heartless coot!!

    July 9, 2010 at 03:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. bestinterest

    Guilt, confusion, sadness, happiness and all the other emotions that human experiences is what gives us our humanity. The children if allowed to see their mother may experience some or all of the above but if the environment is created so as to allow them to experience these feeling without being overwhelmed the kids will grow emotionally and not only learn to accept the hand that they were dealt but also embrace the life lesson that comes with it...developing compassion, patience etc. I hope that the father finds it in his heart to see the grandparents as parents too that whether rightly or wrongly are doing what they feel is right for their daughter and allow the grandparents to bring the part of mother to the children that he cannot and will not...whether that be stories of their mother as a kid or similarities in the grandparents' personalities that might be similar to the mother. Divorcing the mother when she is disabled and cannot fight for herself is not only heartless but teaches the children that the disabled and the sick in our society are to be discarded and deserves no loyalty. Whether a machine is keeping the mother alive or not still allows the children the opportunity to hug her or touch her something that will be gone forever once she is 6 feet under. The father can try all he wants but he will never be able to change the fact that mother is part of the children and has done nothing wrong to justify his terminating her parental rights...even if she cannot fight for them!!! The father on the other hand may not only have avoided his responsibility to the mother but failed to protect the children by not being able to deal with his guilt in encouraging her to have IVF. divorcing her, and alienating the children from their mother.

    July 9, 2010 at 03:19 | Report abuse | Reply
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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.