home
RSS
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 (681 Responses)
  1. jackps1

    I think the mother would improve when seeing her children. Likely not to a highly functioning level but she has got to be depressed!! He (the husband) should put himself in her shoes. What if the situation were reversed (he got in a car accident on the way the hospital, for example) and she denied him the same?

    July 9, 2010 at 08:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. May

    The longer the children are denied access to their mother, the worse it will be for them. They will one day resent their father, for not allowing them to know their mother's love, at an age when love is all a child knows.

    July 9, 2010 at 08:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Kaz

    I agree with Cricket. I believe that the husband is the one who doesn't want to deal with the woman's condition, and that's why he keeps the three children away from her as well as he divorced her. He might be feeling guilty for her condition, but I want him to think twice. All mothers risk their lives when they give birth to their children. Childbirth is not a sickness but there is always a risk to lose your health or even life. And yet, we still do it for ourselves and our partners. Besides, this woman went throught IVF, which is not that easy to go through. If he really understood how much effort she put in to have children with him, he can't keep her away from her children! Don't use the children as a reason not to let them see her. I believe he is the one who can't look at her. He needs to work on this issue or the three children will always feel they did somthing wrong althought they don't really know what it was.

    July 9, 2010 at 08:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Bob

    I should think that I would be more scarred by my father than by my mother, if I were these children. What person divorces his sweetheart after she encounters something so tragic and then refuses to share their children with her. The kids have the opportunity to grow up loving and tender as a result of what happened to their mother; instead, they will grow up with the model of conditional love and likely be just as selfish as their father.

    July 9, 2010 at 08:47 | Report abuse | Reply
    • skier31

      While I agree they should know who their mother is and be able to visit, I will not condenm the man for getting a divorce. If you are commenting in this section and are married and you truly love your spouse then you know there is more to marriage than sex. People need an emotional connectiion and unfortunately she cannot provide that for him. Let's keep the focus on the children and what is in their best interest.

      July 9, 2010 at 09:29 | Report abuse |
  5. CI

    I agree. The children have a right to see their mother. Once they grow up, they will feel cheated and even angry for being denied the opportunity to love her and care for her.

    July 9, 2010 at 08:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Tracy

    I believe the children should see their mom. I have seizures and my boys have witnessed many of them, they do not fear it. I believe because they have seen it they are better people. I believe they don't focus on people that are different because they have a mom that is different. I believe that if I was seizure free or my seizures were uncontrollable my boys would still love me. My boys also know that because I decided to have children while I was pregnant my seizures were worse and more frequent. They also know I do not regret being pregnant. I love my boys and they love me. Someone just needs to talk/explain the mothers situation to the kids before they see her.

    July 9, 2010 at 08:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Amy

    What a heartbreaking story...of course she should be able to see her children. Too bad her ex-husband sounds like a total jerk....especially to divorce her during this....nice guy!!!!!!

    July 9, 2010 at 08:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Cindy

    It takes a heartless person to totally deny children's rights to be with their mother, unless she is abusive to them. His excuses are a cop out; how would the children know she got that way froming giving birth unless he told them? It is up to him as to whether or not to lay a guilt trip on them. In the meantime; unite the children with their mother. It sounds like these kids would be better off in the custody of their mother. I feel so sorry for them.

    July 9, 2010 at 08:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Mari

    Let her see her kids. Let the kids see their mommy. Their are kids that experience trauma and abuse, but somehow they are able to learn and get passed their unfortunate experience. If the father cares so much about their well being, then he should know that he will be able to help them cope with this. He cannot keep them from her.

    July 9, 2010 at 08:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Don

    I think the mother has every right to see the children and the children need to know about and see their mother. You can explain to the children what happened to their mother and they will be ok. I have an uncle that developed some mental problem while in school at the University of Rochester. The school called my grandmother and basically told her what happened and to come pick up her son. He was put in a mental hospital. My mother kept this from me until I was in my twenties. Can you imagine being in your 20's and find out you have an uncle who lives 10 miles away that you never knew of? I'm now in my 40's and am still upset and confused as to why she thinks she was protecting me some how.

    July 9, 2010 at 08:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Yellowbird

    The Mother still has a Spirit within her and that must be respected. I believe that the children must have a relationship with their Mother to ensure their own proper emotional and spiritual development; without which, problems will surely surface for them later in life.

    July 9, 2010 at 08:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Sheila

    The father will suffer more anger (his children's) and pain when his own children approach adulthood and realize how misguided and unfair he was, should he prevail in preventing the mother from seeing her children. Children at this age can certainly be educated with age-appropriate information about her condition. Since I presume he didn't tell his kids that their mother had died, they must already have questions about why they can't see her... he will be hanging himself with his own rope, as they say, if he continues to deny their relationship. I sincerely hope that the courts find in her favor, for regular visitation. To prolong their absence in her life is to unreasonably extend the cruelty that has already cut short her beautiful and productive early adulthood.

    July 9, 2010 at 08:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. K

    Am I hearing just a tad fof selfishness from the father? I can only imagine what he has told the children. My mother had several strokes shortly after she gave birth to my brother and I. She was incapacitated for many yrs. We had a relationship, and I believe it helped her get better. Now she is walking and talking pretty high functioning. Still has a seizure disorder and take HIGH dose anti-seizure meds but its undercontrol. NO ONE should throw in the towel. She may be mending herself on the inside and one day soon may improve. The human brain is so complex no one can really say. Someone needs to give those kids some credit,let them see their mother and go from there.

    July 9, 2010 at 08:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. jeanne

    ITS THEIR MOTHER.....let them not only "see" her but have a relationship with her....what alot of us would do to see or speak to our mothers again.....there is no debate through my eyes,brain,and heart...i hope a judge does not wait another day to allow the childred to spend time w/ their mother.

    July 9, 2010 at 08:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Catherine

    I think the father is somehow feeling a little guilty about the situation and he shouldn't. It's life and life isn't pretty sometimes. The children should be able to see the woman who gave them life. Children are very accepting. They need only know that their mother had a medical problem that resulted in her disability. I have a nephew, the oldest, who has always been disabled. The kids that came after him just view him as he is and accept it. I find that they have benefited from knowing him. They are more sensitive and accepting of all disabled people. He has made them better people. This could be the same affect on these children. It would still give the mother a chance to influence her children for the better. And she might even know they are there and it could influence her as well.

    July 9, 2010 at 09:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Aman cheema

    I think abby has full right to see kids she gave birth to. Her children and happy supportive environment may help her fight the state she is in. I wish all the good luck for her. Whatever reasons her ex-husband is giving for not letting her kids to visit is not appropriate. If the kids grow in environment where they see that anything can happen to anybody, i feel that makes them mature and be able to be considerate for others.

    July 9, 2010 at 09:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. T

    Every mother/father has a right to see their children, even unfit parents are allowed limited &/or supervised visitation. Its unethical to discriminate against this mother because of her disability. Whats next? Will disable veterans be denied visitation when they return from war? Where do you stop once you allow such in justice?

    July 9, 2010 at 09:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Steve

    Listen to two recent NPR offerings – this morning's Story Corps featured a father who had a hand amputated after serious illness talking to his kids (10 and 8 if I remember). The second is yesterday's Morning Edition story on the son of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, four years old when his parents were executed for spying for the Soviet Union in the 50's. In particular, listen to how he talks of his eight year-old brother's experience and how it affected him. We continue to be mystified by the power of the human brain and the manner in which it senses it's surroundings, and we also cosntantly see the stories of children seeking to know "where they came from." The kids know more than we think they do, they are resilient if supported properly, and their mother lives and has the potential to be touched in ways we can't grasp. It seems to me that four lives would be enriched by allowing them all to be together.

    July 9, 2010 at 09:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. mp

    I can't even believe this is a topic of conversation......this woman is the MOTHER OF HER CHILDREN and naturally has EVERY RIGHT to see her kids and have them develop a bond with their mother. What 'justice system' would deny her that?? And, what right does the 'father' have making this decision?? No one needs to sit down and explain the details to the 4 year olds just yet. They can easily bypass that part until the kids are old enough to understand and cope with the facts. There are so many tragic stories you hear on the news...."Mother gets in car accident and becomes permanently paralyzed." Does that mean she should lose custody and visitation of her children?? If she were an abusive mother, that's an entirely different story...this is a mother who, through a battle of her own, finally became pregnant and miraculously gave birth to these children...now her family should fight the next battle she's unable to fight personally and make sure justice prevails!

    July 9, 2010 at 09:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Angela

    I am like most with strong feeling in relation to the mother's rights as well as the rights of the children. My view is slanted and biased toward human basic needs of love and belonging. I am fortunate to be the caregiver of a child who has permenant brain damage, who is unable to "communicate" or even hold his head up. We (his family) can understand his pleasures and pains. He knows and recognizes the ones who love him. The other children, sisters and cousins as well as children at school all show him love and he responds to that love. The mother and the children will share that same "unspoken" bond. Look at the comfort and love that could be shared with just a hug by the children. Children are resiliant and frequently can read the needs of those who can not express them to others. My heart breaks for this mother and her children and everyday that love cannot be expressed due to fear of the unknown.

    July 9, 2010 at 09:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. bong girl

    Hiding the children form Abbie will not change her health and niether the fact that this happened to her during her delivery. The children will know it one day or the other. But that day they will not be able to forgive the father for not allowing them to meet there mom. It is the responsibility of the father and there immediate family to explain the unfortunate situation to them as they grow up. Abbie may or maynot be expressing the desire to meet her children, but the children should, anyway.

    In this context, the father seems to be extremely selfish. He has obviously broken his vows as a husband and is commiting a major crime by not allowing children meet mom. I am sure he has gone through a lot of trauma as well and wants to go ahead with his life with his children, trying to forget the agonising past. But, he cannot deny the fact that he was married to Abbie and she is and always will be the mother of his prized children. It would, therefore, be for the best interests of both him and his children to accept the truth and meet there mom before it is too late.

    July 9, 2010 at 09:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Dr. Mama

    Lies and deception are NEVER a hallmark of good parenting. Yes, it will be difficult for the kids to understand and process what has happened to their mom, but the sooner they're introduced to the truth in a loving way, the sooner that can happen. As they grow up, they need the opportunity to be with her in whatever way they can. More damage will be done by trying to "protect" them than by giving the truth its due.

    http://mamasoncall.com

    July 9, 2010 at 09:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Jonas

    Has it been mentioned yet that per a different, lengthier article, the legitimate doctors have all declared her in a persistent vegitative state, and the only one who says she can recover is her parent's accupuncturist? It seems like an important detail to leave out. Doctor versus doctor leaves much room to debate, doctor versus accupuncturist leaves much less.

    July 9, 2010 at 09:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Do what's best for the kids!

    I thought under the disability act, people were protected from this type of discrimination. These children's father divorced their mother and he doesn't have to see her but their grandparents can bring the children. The nursing staff can help make it a positive experience, being especially sensitive to needs and fears of 4 year old children. Even if the mom can't comprehend anything her children will be harmed by growing up without being allowed to see their mom. The perspective has to be not whats best for the mom but whats best for the kids. Think of all the good that will come out of this, they will learn sympathy and acceptance, the can make her cards and art projects. A half hour a week would be all that would be necessary. The dad has ever right to move on but he doesn't have the right to withhold visitation to themom....she is not dead.

    July 9, 2010 at 09:23 | Report abuse | Reply
    • DMK

      The children should have been taken to see their mother from the beginning. As they mature they will always wonder about her and will want to know the truth. They will resent their father for keeping her out of their life. They should visit her and let her see them. She sacrificed her life for them and will understand a mothers love by seeing her example. Shame on the father. He will regret his decision.

      July 9, 2010 at 09:31 | Report abuse |
  25. Patti

    This story touched me probably because it so echoes my own life. When my kid were18 months old, 4 yrs old and 7, there dad had a massive stroke. This left him unable to use his right arm, walk with a cane and most of all to communicate easily. His speech is very hard to understand. His judgement has been impaired and he needs help with day to day activities. He stayed with us for 4 years before moving on to an assisted living arrangement, yes, during that time he could have been in a nursing home, social workers suggested it multiple times. My kids have had a very rough time but ultimately are normal happy adjusted teenagers. Their father may not be the typical father but they have grown to be more compassionate people because of the situation. My kids grew up knowing that Rehab was where you went to exercise muscles that didn't work so well and I have had counseling available to them since the beginning. Funny thing is they see it as normal now and it is others who are shocked. I am not saying that their relationship is perfect but it is their relationship and they like it. I really hope that father in this stroy will look at the long range situation and have his children interact with the kids. I can't imagine the anger the kids will feel as they get older and find out about this.

    July 9, 2010 at 09:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Ankur

    The children do have the right to see their mother. She is still blinking and taking in visual information. There is also the question of her wish. I guess a study of brain activity when asked questions could tell if she is understanding and responding. If expert medical opinion says she cant recover, a bigger question facing the mom's family in the future will be how long they can keep her in that state...

    July 9, 2010 at 09:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. Sapna

    Plain and simple, these children must see their mother and know who she is. They will eventually start asking questions ad the potential for emotional turmoil and damage later in life from having this information withheld is astronomical. As the other posters have said, children determine normal as their role models determine normal. As a pediatric intensivist, I see children who are neurologically devastated everyday, and these children live with "normal" siblings who, from the youngest to the teenagers, love their siblings with all their heart and are even more compassionate and well-adjusted thanks to these relationships. I can't tell you how many times I have watched these interactions during family visiting hours– a sick, neurologically devastated child and the elation that their siblings have when they finally get to see them after missing them so much during their hospitalization. The love that I observe truly makes me understand what is wonderful about the world. This innocent, unparalleled and unconditional love that a child is capable of is incredible. And aside from the benefit to the mother of seeing her children if she has some cognition, the benefit to these children from an emotional standpoint would be priceless. I rarely make pronouncements about ethical situations such as these, but in this case, it is black and white. Those chidren should not be restricted from their mother- that is a huge mistake.

    July 9, 2010 at 09:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Donna

    Sounds like dad needs help (therapy).
    4 years is more than enough time to adjust to his new reality.

    July 9, 2010 at 09:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. Charles

    If I ever get stuck having to be seen by Dr. Gupta, just shoot me. I've worked in healthcare for more than 15 years. The most effective doctors and nurses are those who are, and remain, professional and don't let their "heart" get in the way becuase that's when people start dying. This poor woman made a terrible decision and, using modern medicine, gave birth to an unnatural number of children. The stress was too much for her body and now, she, her children, their father and all others involved must suffer. A doctor should be able to recgonize that this woman can not be a mother to these children. If you all believe in God, let her go to Him.

    July 9, 2010 at 09:31 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jeremy

      Charles - wow, you are amazingly right. We definitely more "heartless" doctors. I can only pray that you get one the next time you are in need. Maybe that will doctor will shoot you, as you desire.

      July 9, 2010 at 10:45 | Report abuse |
  30. Geeshgirl

    Here is a sweet story that speaks to exposing children to disability.

    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=128389867&sc=fb&cc=fp

    To anyone who thinks this is not a good idea–where do you draw the line?

    July 9, 2010 at 09:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. Karen

    These children should be able to see their MOM – If they are sheltered from her how are they ever going to be able to
    handle anyone with difficulties. Their MOM is just that their MOM – and who knows, when she creates a special bond
    with each of them – maybe their is a miracle out that – and we would see some improvements for MOM even if small.
    If Dad keeps these children from their MOM – what is that going to do to them when they become young adults and start
    asking questions and finding out the truth – they will end up alone – with nobody they love and trust unconditionally! She
    is not contagious – she has suffered something no MOM wants too and nobody she be kept away from her.

    Kids: go hug your MOM and tell her you love her no matter what!! 🙂

    July 9, 2010 at 09:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. Lola

    It is damaging for children not to know their parents. Even the most unfit parents, get supervised visitations. The children must be allowed to visit their mother so that they may know her as she is. She is still alive and a human, even if she is severely disabled. If they do not see her until they are adults, they will feel worse guilt. It's likely they will grow up to deeply resent their father.

    July 9, 2010 at 09:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. Sam

    The husband is a selfish rotten pig. Child birth is risky complicated process. In human civilization many many mothers have died in the process. Do all those kids feel guilty? Irrespective of her health mother has all the rights to see her kids and the kids have all the rights to meet their mother.

    July 9, 2010 at 09:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. Moe

    Those kids must be allowed to see their mother. It's also the God given right of the Mother to see her kids, she's the one
    who brought them into this world.
    Those kids will grow up to love and care for their mom in more ways than most other kids with healthy moms. They would appreciate
    the difficulty their mom went thru to bring them into this world. Love has many dimensions, and it appears the father needs to see
    love that will grow when the kids bond with their mom. He should not deprive his kids the once in a lifetime moment of spending time
    with their mom.
    The father also need to know that depriving the kids of spending time with their mom could also mean the kids could end up hating him for that.
    As a father, I would never do anything to make my kid hate me.

    July 9, 2010 at 09:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. Kristen

    I feel so sad for those three children, with such a blind and heartless father. The dad must immediately allow regular visits for the children with their mother.

    July 9, 2010 at 09:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. Raj

    You raise very important question – do the kinds have a right to see their Mom.
    Absolutely -YES.
    MESSAGE TO THE DAD –
    ONE DAY WHEN THE KIDS ARE GROWN UP AND UNDERSTAND "you denied them the opportunity to have any relationship with their mother, no matter what condition was she in, she was alive", THEY'LL HATE YOU FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE!
    IN YOUR SHORT TERM SELFISHNESS, YOU'RE NOT ABLE TO SEE THAT IN THE LONG TERM IT'LL WORK AGAINST YOU.
    YOUR ATTITUDE TOWARDS YOUR WIFE (NOW ex-) IS ANOTHER STORY!

    July 9, 2010 at 09:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. Constanza

    Does anyone asked her if she wants to continue living like that?, as far as I know she's been feed by a tube in her stomach, without that she'll die. I can understand the pain of her parents but they maybe keeping her alive for them and not for her, all I know is that I wouldn't want to live in that condition and I would rather die.

    July 9, 2010 at 09:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. pesky

    What's the ? ....there should be no question. The children should see their mother and should have been exposed to her for 4 years already. This does not seem to be the issue...it sounds like the father/husband wants to move on without any strings to the mother. He is hiding behind the kids...

    July 9, 2010 at 09:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. Sandra

    Life is difficult. The father can not prevent lifes difficulties from his children. Therefore, they deserve to "know" their mother regardless of her state. I believe they would rather grow up knowing her than knowing someone kept them from her.

    July 9, 2010 at 09:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. As a Parent

    As a Parent All I have to say to this whole thing is this. Unless you are put in this situation, no one knows how they will react. However, what we do know is that the children are stuck between adults whom seem to be selfish on both sides. Until the adults get there heads in the game and are able to meet on a mutual ground, the kids will always be in the center. Do I agree with either side? Thats the hard part and I must say that I see equally each side point. I honestly would not know what I would do or react if I was stuck in the same situation. For the people who are condemning anyone please first think if you where stuck in there shoes but don't say how you would react because you really don't know since you are not in the same situation. Lucky for you. One last thing if you have children go home and hug them and tell them how much you love them.

    July 9, 2010 at 09:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. Anne

    When they get older, the kids are going to be more upset with their father for hiding this from them for so long than they ever will be about "blaming themselves" for causing it. He claims it's about protecting the children, but that's a very short term plan. Eventually, they will be old enough to handle it. Then what? Will he finally let the kids see her then? Or is he just hoping she will die before that happens so he won't have to explain he was lying to them all these years?

    July 9, 2010 at 09:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. Mom

    When I read about Abiie, tears welled in my eyes. I think there shouldnt even be a discussion on this matter. it is plain and simple truth- the bond between a mom and a child surpasses the normal relationship theories...it is bond of heart and a bond of soul. A mom and a child should never be kept away from each other willingly or unkowingly. The Dads argument is most idotic I have ever heard. Please dont let him win this battle. It will be let down for all Moms in this world.

    July 9, 2010 at 09:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. Sam

    Well, she did just about give her life for those children to be born and have a life to live.

    If she had died, would the father have been against bringing the kids to her grave?

    July 9, 2010 at 09:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. Dee

    What a terrible husband (ex-husband). First, how could he leave her after all this? Does he have no conscience? And even after leaving her, he's not allowing her to see her children! That's just terrible. Absolutely terrible. There should be a law that bars this kind of injustice.

    July 9, 2010 at 09:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. Laura

    Regardless of what we think, the father is the one who has to make these choices. He's the one awake and caring for the children. It's not for society to make these kinds of decisions. As heartbreaking as it may be, our country works because we allow individuals to make their own decisions about their fate, their family, and their lives (unless there is a broken law or you are hurting someone). Clearly the father believes he is doing what is best for his family. Don't we all deserve the right to make this choice?

    July 9, 2010 at 09:59 | Report abuse | Reply
    • ann

      Yes but does he have the right to decide for his now ex-wife (who he has completely separated himself from) ? He is taking away her rights. By separating from her he has removed her from what he considers his family and therefore he doesn't have the right to decide for her. Just like any divorced couple it doesn't matter what his opinion is. She has the right to see her children.

      July 9, 2010 at 10:06 | Report abuse |
    • Sandra

      NO, I don't think so. As well as I don't think that anyone has right to decide about other persons life! As a parent one have that power that in some cases like this one can backfire. The kids can impossibly benefit from beeing hidden away from their mother .....and THEIR interest is the only one the father and society should care about.

      July 9, 2010 at 10:27 | Report abuse |
  46. Cathy

    By keeping them away, the father is telling them that HE blames them for their mother's condition. No matter how old, when he does tell them the truth, it will destroy their world. They will feel guilt because their birth caused this, guilt because they were the reason she never got to see them, and shame because they will feel HE blames them as well. If the father allows them to meet their mother while young, he can make them feel that they are all family and love overcomes the guilt. They will just accept it. Personally, I think the father does blame them for his wife's condition and just can't let it go. He's the one that needs therapy – not the kids.

    July 9, 2010 at 09:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. Rather Not

    SO...seeing their disabled mother may traumatize the kids. But never meeting their mother at all won't? Hinky. There is more to this story – adult egos, I'm sure. Very little to do with the kids.

    July 9, 2010 at 10:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. Heather

    Ditto Sheila. Their father is making a huge mistake. One that seems no less than extremely selfish. He just doesn't want to deal with seeing the woman he loved in the state she is in and so he is denying anyone around him from her too. Clearly he resents that his life is now upside down and he is punishing his ex-wife and ultimately his children for this. How horrific!! The day these children find out that he has kept their mother from them will be a terrible one indeed. They will know the whole truth of everything, including all of our opinions which they will only have to look up on the internet and they will wonder how their father could not see what everyone else sees. They have a right to know and love their mother!!!

    July 9, 2010 at 10:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. ann

    The idea of this husband abandoning his wife after she lost her health to deliver their 3 babies makes me feel sick. How would he feel if their positions were reversed! I couldn't personally even imagine doing that to my hubby. If there was even one ounce of any possibility he was still in there I couldn't just abandon him to a life of being stuck in a body unable to communicate and all alone. How horrible. Even criminals get treated better than that. These kids will eventually find out what he did and they will surely be angry with him. He isn't protecting them, he is casting her aside so that he never has to see her again and he doesn't have to feel guilty about abandoning her or see her in that state. How selfish! What a bum head!

    July 9, 2010 at 10:02 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Rachel

      Ann, you're being too harsh. Dan is a young guy with a whole life ahead of him. I don't blame him for getting divorced. There is nothing that will bring Abby back to the person she was. I don't agree with the until death do us part idea. I think Abby should continue to be part of Dan's and the kids' lives permanently. I am quite sure whoever he marries could and should understand this special relationship.

      July 9, 2010 at 12:30 | Report abuse |
  50. michelle

    This is so sad, it could have been me. When I delivered my daughter in 1985 I lost over 6 pints of blood. We both came through intact. In the next month I'd heard of 10 other women who'd had an abruptio, like me, and 9 of the babies died and the one baby who lived, the mother died. I had my beautiful daughter for 24 years, until she died this last January. We don't know how long we will have and the most important thing to remember is that while we are here it is all about how well we have loved. HOW WELL WE HAVE LOVED. This story reminds me of a friend who had terminal cancer and her boyfriend of many years made her leave their home because he didn't want his son, HER beloved stepson, to witness her death. Now that young man has the shining example of his father to go forth and treat loved ones as "disposable". I think that is much more traumatic to those children's souls.

    July 9, 2010 at 10:05 | Report abuse | Reply
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Leave a Reply to william wallace


 

CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

Advertisement
About this blog

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.