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. Kathryn

    As I write, I am sitting by my mother's bedside in ICU where she remains in critical but stable condition after collapsing at home a week ago. I have watched a vibrant, healthy, active, tennis-playing 75 year old woman now being supported on a ventilator and a hemodialysis machine who is semi-comatose with possible permanent brain damage. Like Dr. Gupta, I too wear two hats. I am a physician and a daughter.

    Many years ago, my mother, a retired nurse, made me swear to her that I would not allow life-sustaining procedures be performed on her should something like this occur. I have agonized over my promise and my responsibility to her for the last 7 days. There are no easy answers in any of this but there is a slim chance that she may survive with the possibility of seeing her grandchildren again.

    As much as I love my mother, right now, I can't take that hope away from my sisters and their young children. We are in constant prayer. I do believe that at some point, this woman's children should be allowed to see her but they must be adequately prepared and old enough to understand what is happening. Otherwise, it can be a quite frightening and traumatizing experience. God's peace be with us!

    July 9, 2010 at 10:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. ann

    Also, seeing their mother for the first time in this state when they are much older will probably be far more traumatic then if they are given the opportunity to get used to it early on.

    July 9, 2010 at 10:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. SGT

    I ALSO WEAR TWO HATS-Being a Pediatrician and a Mother of Twins. I also went through IVF treatment,so I do kinow that it is not easy process.
    In my view as a Physician her recovery may be helped by viewing her Children-for with any illness the emotional stress, regardless of brain death, never speeds up physical healing process.
    Mere thought of being physically disable to the degree that she is, add to it loss of marriage and top it off with not being able to see your children since their birth is tremendous.
    As per her Children , as a Pediatrician, I do not think it would be damaging for her Children to see their Mother- if the father of the children did not opposed it so much and instead was supportive in the process.
    Children, even as young as 4 yrs of age, can understand and even appreciate the love that their Mother has for them, and accept her disability, illness-provided that therapist AS WELL AS THE FATHER works with the Children.
    With proper communication by therapists, and the children's father kids can express their concerns, apprehensions, fears,or any other feelings that may come up.
    As a Pediatrician , I have seen that even young kids can have empathy, and much more compassion, understanding , and resiliance than what Courtroom and Lawyers are able to see.

    July 9, 2010 at 10:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Shannon

    By what right does the father have keeping the children away from Abbie? She carried and loved all three babies in her womb for 9 months. She gave birth to them. She is their mother. She wanted to have these babies. She has that right to see her children. Not only does she have that right, but the children have the right to see their mom. Yes, it may be difficult for the children at first, but they will understand with tender explanations. The children are not in danger by an abusive mother. the mother is not a drug dealer. Sit the children down, explain to the children what happened, and bring them to see their mother.

    July 9, 2010 at 10:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Vivian

    Well since the husband didn't see fit to stick around after she gave her life literally giving birth it seems cruel to think he wants to hide the children from her and not even let her have any moments with them. Children should be given the opportunity to say for themselves and have a chance to have some kind of relationship with their mom.

    July 9, 2010 at 10:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Steve Huffman

    This is only my take on what I've read but I think the children should see their mother and it be explained that she has a condition and later when they can better understand tell them that she had a condition that caused the blood loss and it's not their fault. Information should be fed to them at a rate determined by their age and ability to understand.

    July 9, 2010 at 10:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Rhonda

    If those children had been with thier mother and grandparents from birth, they would just know her as Mommy no matter what her condition. as for the father using the excuse "they may blame themselves for her condition" if he had not been keeping them from thier mother this would not be a legel and public issue, and they would never have had to know what really happend to her.

    July 9, 2010 at 10:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. rp

    as i was reading this story i sat back and thought about why the husband would keep the kids away. then i thought about even if it caused some trauma to the kids life to see there mother in that state, at least they will not envy him for never being able to see her. its sad when you get married and your vows state for better or for worse and you get sick and conveintly you get divorced. he should be ashamed of himself for keeping those children away. i hope that idiot burns in hell for what he did to her. they chose to have children, she got sick in the process, he should still be by her side. instead hes keeping her children away. excuses, excuses, excuses

    July 9, 2010 at 10:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Sonia

    This is just horrible! Seriously children are resilient and smart. And this is just a matter of teaching them to accept and love people as they are. At this age they do not have to know the details of what put their mother in this coniditon. I cant believe this is even a legal issue. How can it be legal to keep children away from their mother because she is disabled? I think the father doesnt want to have any kind of connection with the mother anymore. Maybe because he may feel guilty for leaving her because of her disability. AND HE SHOULD! Does he every think about how the children would feel when they grow up and find out the HE kept their own mother away?

    July 9, 2010 at 10:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Sandra

    I can't belive that this is an issue....why would anybody think that a child would see a "tragedy" in having a disabled mother. Probably the husbant was raised to belive that disabled means less worthy....it would be pity for the kids not to learn differently.

    July 9, 2010 at 10:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Florida

    A sad story indeed that stirs up mixed emotions. Everytime I read an article like this, it reminds me of why these topics although difficult need to be discussed amongst family members. I have had many conversations with my next of kin about their choices and mine if they ever were in a similar situation. My parents have expressed time and time again that they do not want to be resuscitated and do not want to be on life support (outside of the observation period).

    Having a living and/or written will is very important. I know we do not want to think about doom and gloom topics but so many families (like this one, the Schiavos, etc) have been torn because these discussions were not officially expressed either in a family meeting setting or on paper. In this case, each parent is doing what they feel best for their child/children (Abbie's parents and Abbie's ex husband).

    For those of us that are not in this situation, let's have these conversations sooner rather than later. For those in similar situations, my heart goes out to you and hope that somehow the good Lord could guide you to find a resolution that will bring you and the rest of the family peace.

    July 9, 2010 at 10:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Kittie

    Years ago mother's died giving birth a lot and people/children excepted it as a part of life. Now it's not often heard of with the advancement of medical treatment. I belive that if the children are are kept from their mother when they grow up they will be upset with their father, especially once they have children of their own....they will know the unconditional love/bond between a mother and her children and they might resent their father for not giving them the opportunity to know their mother. Those children are going to have to Goggle their own mother~~what a shame. My boss has a daughter that has Schizophrenia and is institutionalized (about 25 years now) and both of her children have visited her their entire life and they love her very much. Sometimes mommy knows them and delights when she sees them and sometimes she thinks that they are someone else...but they ALWAYS know that she is their mother.

    July 9, 2010 at 10:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Frank

    I think that the kids should see their parents, but I do not hold any judgment against the father for not letting them view their mom. None of the previous viewers have any right to make such harsh judgments. This situation is tragic and must be horrible for all parties involved. It is far too easy to sit back and type out a harsh statement from a computer. Try doing that face to face, and see what happens when confronted with the other side of the story. Furthermore, most of the previous statements assume that the mom is still communicating. From the article, it sounds as if she is responding by a system of blinks. Obviously, if her communication was certain, then there would not even be a lawsuit. I am guessing that it is not clear as to whether the blinks are random or deliberate. Don't judge until you know the whole story.

    July 9, 2010 at 10:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. lisa

    The father says that he will tell them what happened to their mother when it is age appropriate. I think that is the right thing to do, but that doesn't mean that they shouldn't be able to see her and know her. At four years old, all they need to know is that there was an accident, and it made her different than most other people. I understand wanting to shelter your children from harm, but visiting with their mother while she in this state would not be harmful. If anything, he the one harming them by not letting them have a relationship with her while they are young. My heart goes out to her and the grandparents. Children have the right to know their parents.

    July 9, 2010 at 10:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Marcia

    Since it seems Abbie will be here for quite some time, her children will undoubtedly learn about her on their own. And how is their father going to explain why he kept them from seeing their mom. I wonder if they will accept his flimsy story that he is trying to protect them from guilt. Best to be honest finally, and give the children as much detail as their age allows them to understand.

    July 9, 2010 at 10:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Spike5

    These needs to be about the children, not the mother. I'm sure she would want their welfare to be the priority.

    I have a 4-year-old grandson. I can't see how he could possibly benefit from being exposed to someone in this condition. He would not understand why she could not communicate. He would not know how to behave. He would probably be frightened. At best, he would be bored. At worst, he would be terrified that something like this could happen to his father and he would be left without any parent at all.

    Tell the children that their mother is very sick, absolutely. Give them pictures of her as she was before they were born. Keep her memory alive as you would if she had died. And if some day they ask to see her, then that would be a different story. But they would never ask now unless the mother's family keeps bringing it up.

    It's all about the children. Not the mother, not the grandparents. The children.

    July 9, 2010 at 10:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. taran

    This is a terrible situation for all involved, and the father is either heartless or just not aware of what children are capable of. My mother's sister was in a state very similar to this mother. She was unable to move and although she could both laugh and cry, she could not communicate in any other way. We were never kept from her. I just remember her as my aunt. Her condition was what it was, and it was neither scary or traumatic for the kids. In fact, it made us better people, for we could accept people in similar situation. So many people are uncomfortable around people with severe disabilities. Too bad adults aren't as open and accepting as children.

    July 9, 2010 at 10:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Melinda

    How sad is it that the Father thinks he is doing his children a favor by keeping them away. As a mother, I would never want my child kept from knowing me. Her children would be better off knowing their mother than being kept from her. Her husband is a jerk.

    July 9, 2010 at 10:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Sandra

    I thought it was interesting that the father said "they might blame themselves one day". That would have never crossed my mind!

    Does he think they won't ever find out about her!

    July 9, 2010 at 10:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. MarCharMom

    I truly feel if that man were not so self centered those children would have been "seeing" their mother, Abbie, from the very beginning. They would never be scarred or traumatized by her condition. There are many children of disabled parents in this world – most grow up with that parent constantly in their lives. They, therefore, never "see" their parent as anything but their parent. The children also grow up with a better understanding of differences and empathy for others with limitations. They are stronger for knowing both their parents and I am sure their loving maternal grandparents will help them to KNOW their mom and how much she loves them and wanted them in her life. They will not bear the guilt their father speaks of unless he places them in the situation where they don't know their mother and her love for them, then when they finally see her they will feel uncomfortable and possible scarred or guilty or any other emotion a child feels after their parent has been kept from them during their formative years. This "father" – and I use that term loosely, has already created a situation to damage these young children. What will they think of him for divorcing their mother in her greatest time of need. What happened to his vows of in sickness and in health...he must not have had true love for her. How sad that he has shown his children how little he valued the woman who gave EVERYTHING to bring them into this world. How sad they must grow up with him to show them the value of love and human life...that unless you are perfect I won't love you. It really is their father who has already damaged these young children – he didn't care enough for his wife to let them see her or know her. They will eventually have ill feelings for their father, once they are old enough to understand.

    July 9, 2010 at 10:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Poppy

    they should put her to sleep then we wouldnt have to answer questions like this

    July 9, 2010 at 10:35 | Report abuse | Reply
    • linda

      have a heart- the lady is brain damaged not brain dead. just because she is not society's idea of "perfect " it doesn't mean that she is of no value, she is a mother of three who is being denied access to her children by a man who seems to be embarrassed by his " less than perfect " ex-wife

      July 11, 2010 at 05:56 | Report abuse |
  22. Nancy

    Her children should be able to see her. Whatever her condition is, who is anyone to speculate what Abby can and cannot experience? Why should she be denied the presence of her children? Trying to shield her children from her condition will only do them harm in the long run. We come from the people we come from and they are part of our reality.Things happen in life that are far from perfect. Denying them access doesn't change that, it just denies them from knowing their mother in any way. Can anyone imagine finding out as an older child or adult that your mother was alive, albeit in physically or mentally difficult condition and you were denied ever seeing her?
    Prayers to Abby and her family.

    July 9, 2010 at 10:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Beryl

    In order to have a relationship, there has to be two parties with COGNITIVE abilities. This woman, who according to the doctors do not have that ability, has not emotional attachment to the children. And since the children have never met her, they have no emotional attachemnt to her. We do not know what the father has told them, and if he did in fact show them pictures of their mother when she was "normal" and able to respond, what would it do to them to see her like she is now.
    ANs as for him divorcing her, it may have been so she would qualify for government assistance such as medicare. Unitl all the facts are known, noone should villify him.

    July 9, 2010 at 10:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Walter Megger

    I believe without question that the children should have a relationship with their mom. The father’s motives are so suspicious. He talks about the children’s guilt, but I wonder if he is really reacting to his own guilt. If the children develop a relationship with their mother then, years down the road, he may have to answer to them about why he abandoned her (through divorce) and did not stick with her through this tragedy. I am not saying they won’t question him anyway, but one can see how he might be trying to protect himself regardless.

    July 9, 2010 at 10:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Heather G.

    I am a mother of 3 year old twins. I can not imagine not knowing them or even more importantly can not imagine THEM not knowing me not matter what my condition. The word "normal" is relative. Whatever children knowfrom the beginning of their lives is "normal" for them. There is no such thing as a normal family, because every family is different. My family consists of people who are related to me by blood, by marriage, by partnership and by love. My closests friends are part of my family. We come from various ethnic backgrounds and countries, have various sexual orientations, and various politcal and religious beliefs. Some members of my family have disabilities as well. That is the family that my children know and that is what is normal for them. Regardless of the state of Abbie, the children have a right to know their mother. I can not imagine why a father would deny that to his AND her children. They very well may resent him forever when they are old enough to understand what he has done. He abonded his wife, the mother of his children. The woman who sacrificed her life for them. I'm sure the children's maternal grandparetns would love the opportunity to spend time with them, rather than being on the other side of the country. The children deserve that. The children deserve to be respected. The father is thinking of himself and not for the welfare of his children. I hope that the courts will see things as I do.

    July 9, 2010 at 10:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Mahsa

    Have they tried using Brain Computer Interaction (BCI) applications to see if she can communicate through perhaps an EEG cap? I understand that she might not even be capable of moving her eyes, but I believe some are working on an independent SSVEP (Steady State Visually Evoked Potential) BCI application for people with absolutely no movements in their body which might might help them learn more about her brain activity. Have her doctors try that?

    This is terrible, by the way. What kind of loving husband or father does this?

    July 9, 2010 at 10:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. KS

    What a crock of sh*t. His whole claim is to protect the children. If he thinks these kids are going to thank him for keeping them from having a relationship with their mother, his is out of his mind! He thinks they're going to be damaged now? Just wait buddy. They will have years of guilt and regret for having missed out on this chance to be a part of her life, to know her and be able to hug her. He's a self serving, lying piece of crap. This isn't about the children's welfare, it's all about him.

    July 9, 2010 at 10:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Angie

    As a mother of 2 this makes me cry every time I hear about this story. I don't know anything about medicine, but what if the mere act of seeing her children helped her condition. These children are going to grow up hating their father. Especially when they find out their mother sacrificed so much for them, then when the going got tough he divorced her and actively kept them from seeing her.

    July 9, 2010 at 10:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. shula

    is the father making this decision with or without consulting a child psychologist? i wonder also if the father has thought about how their children will react to his decision later on, adopted children many times seek out biological parents later in life which is proof that most of us want some kind of connection with those who brought us into to world, its possible that their children will resent his decision, especially when they have to face the truth suddenly rather than being allowed to grow into it so to speak

    July 9, 2010 at 10:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. Dr. S

    I am struck by how judgmental we are as a society. I am guilty of it myself at times. In this case, who are we to judge what the father/husband did or did not do in regard to the divorce and in regard to raising his children? Of course, now that this story is in the mainstream press, all these kids will need to do is Google their mother's name down the road and they'll not only get to see what happened but how the larger society has reacted to it in such a judgmental manner. There is something to be said for the ability to have compassion for all parties involved in such a sad case as this one.

    July 9, 2010 at 10:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. susie

    The children should be allowed to see their mother. My mother had Tuberculosis and went into the hospital when I was 2 years old. About the only time we could see her was maybe on a weekend from time to time, and she'd be 3 floors up at the hospital and we'd be outside on the ground talking up to her. A few times that we were allowed to be close to her, she would wear a mask. When I was so small, I didn't know what her illness was....I just knew she was my Mama. I treasure every memory of her....behind the mask, or 3 stories up!

    July 9, 2010 at 10:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. Tamera

    Abbie is a woman who gave the ultimate sacrifice giving birth to three beautiful babies. The children absolutely deserve to see their mother, as she deserves to see her children too.
    I truly believe her ex-husband needs to consider what Abbie has had to endure to bring those children into the world. Abbie would have been so happy to be pregnant with those babies and she would have been looking ahead to raising those children and wathcing them grow up. Despite the fact that she is now in a vegetative state does not mean she should be denied the right to see her children. She unknowingly sacrificed herself to give birth to the babies; Abbie should be respected for her sacrifice and be allowed to see her children.
    Not only are children resilient, but they are incredibly accepting of people with disabilities. If they were prepared properly prior to seeing their mother I do not think there would be any issues at all. Unfortunatly in life we all have to deal with difficult circumstances, those children could become stronger and more caring and compassionate if they learn how to interact with their mom from a young age. As scary as the situation is, I think those children could only benefit from seeing their mother in the long run.

    July 9, 2010 at 10:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. Kristi

    It is unfair to Abbie and her children to not allow them to communicate. There is a bond there that cannot be replaced. When the children become older they will resent their dad for keeping them from seeing their Mom.
    I can relate to this situation with personal experience. My sister was a head injury. She was in a similiar mental state with Abbie as a young adult. My sister was married and due to medical expenses her husband asked for a divorce. My parents insisted we try to have the best quality of life for her after her injury. She passed away several years ago, but the memories my children have playing with her and painting her fingernails are irreplaceable. Having the children interact with someone that is disabled is a great learning tool. My children are not afraid of people that are different. I would not change introducing my daughter to her. In time I had to answere a lot of questions. My daughter is now 13 and knows more of my sister's injury. Granted there were times that were hard, but well woth the effort.

    July 9, 2010 at 11:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. Bened

    I think part of Abbie therapy will be :Abbie kids spent time with their mom much they can,they are part of her,play around her , talk, smiling ,even screaming ,just like on playground .dog or cat is very welcome too around Abbie. Fresh , oceans air and noise waives ,of course sun.

    July 9, 2010 at 11:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. Kimberly

    My brother was involved in a bad car accident on June 4, 2010, and he has some brain damage, but we do not know the extint of the damage yet, the doctors don't even know. Him and his wife have a 12 year old daughter and a newborn, she was born 3 weeks before the accident happened. My brother is young and strong, and we pray everyday that he comes out of this somewhat normal, but we are all prepared that he will never be the George we once knew. This story really touched me, along with the Terry Schiavo case, nothing in the world can prepare you for something like this, it's unfathomable, and it's still hard for me to believe this has happened to George. I know with all I am that George would want to see his children no matter how damaged his brain is. I believe that Abby should be able to see her children!

    July 9, 2010 at 11:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. GP

    My question to the father "How would you feel if something were to happen to you and you were in the same condition as your wife, and your family deicdes that the triplets...the most important thing in your life should not see you because it would be traumatising for them????"

    Would you do that...I know you will definitely say"Yeah, I will do it if it is for the good" Well, my response to that is there is a big difference between saying something and doing something....

    The children has a right to see their mother...Do you want your children to grow up missing their mother....have an incomplete life!!!

    Or is it that you have a girl friend now or have married again and want your children to accept the new wife as the mother?

    Or should we be asking this question....since you are divorced .....you have left the woman (who gave birth to the triplets and who needs your support ) You want to take away the most precious thing in her life ...the triplets...for whom she paid the ultimate price with her life !!!

    What a role model for the children!!!

    Do you even allow the mother's parents to see their grand children??

    Is there any justice in this world!!!

    July 9, 2010 at 11:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. Troy

    So we will give babies back to mothers who left their baby in a dumpster or toilet, back to crackhead mothers who have "cleaned up" and back to parents who mercilessly beat and harm their children but this woman does not have the right to SEE her children? What if this woman dies before the children are "old enough"? Wouldn't that scar them just as much to find out that they never saw their mother when she was alive and could have? I think this guy is just worried that she will recognize the children and react. Then he will have to live with the fact that he abandoned the woman he allegedly loved and the mother of his children.

    July 9, 2010 at 11:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. MeThinksAlot

    This article saddens and infuriates me at the same time. Obviously we DO NOT have all the information (we cannot due to HIPPA laws) and it's a short article. So many "top in their field doctors/neurologists" cannot even agree on what constitutes "communication" from a person in a vegetative state, so her eye-blinking may be just that, or the only way she can communicate.
    The issue at hand is whether or not to allow the 4 yr. old children she gave her normal life to bring into this world to see her. Do these kids even know what happened to her in the first place? Did daddy ever talk to them about their mom and how she is now? Yes, 4 yr. old's can be resilient, they can also be traumatized...depends on the dad and HIS reactions/responses/ and how he has handled the "Daddy, where's mommy?" question. If he has been up front, then they should see their mom. If he has "colored" the truth to protect them, then they need preparing...but should be able to see her in future.
    Docs the world over cannot agree on what constitutes responses from a patient of this type. If the family believes she is communicating, why take the chance she is not?? The most educated doctors in the world cannot even say for certain if she can or cannot communicate...think Steven Hawking before his computerized voice...and you are simply left with children who are beginning to want answers to where their mommy is.

    One more thing: if Daddy is so afraid the kids will think/believe they caused this, then therapy needs to begin NOW to prepare them for any guilt the father assumes they would feel later on. Or is he the one feeling guilty for having done this to her??? Is he just projecting his own fears onto his innocent children. Methinks he is! Why would the kids be to blame when they, mom and dad as a couple, made this decision that turned so terribly and housebreakingly wrong. If this mom has any cognizant thoughts, she deserves to see her children!!! And they deserve to see her and KNOW they are not to blame. No one is...it is simply a biological malfunction that went terribly wrong.

    July 9, 2010 at 11:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. MGinFM

    After watching the video clip posted in the CNN article, it is pretty clear to me that there is still a lot going on in this woman's brain. has anyone tested her with an 'Eye Tracking' computer communication system? This is the type of computer used by Stephen Hawking, who has ALS and is completely 'Locked In', as this woman is. This technology would allow her to type on an on-screen keyboard using either a laser beam that is directed by her eyes, or a mouse that is clicked by her blinks. It would be a sure way to determine how much brain activity there really is. There are several companies that market these devices and the devices can be funded by insurance and other funding sources. Even if there is brain damage, she could still make her wishes known through this communication method. Just to say 'I love you' to her daughters would be a gift this woman.

    July 9, 2010 at 11:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. Amy

    This is so sad...but this mother can do no harm. The other adults, the father, have all the power to turn this into a healthy thing for the kids. These children will want this when they are old enough to understand.

    July 9, 2010 at 11:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. Rachel

    Hi, I really have to agree that the mom deserves the right to have a relationship with her kids, no matter her physical state. I also agree that we under estimate what kids are able to understand and deal with. Saying that Mommy is sick really is enough. They should not be told until they are older how she got "sick". To the father: Daniel, kavod et avicha v'et imecha applies here (Honor your Mother and Father). You're a frum guy, you should know this. Your kids can handle this if you prepare them correctly. I also have three kids.

    July 9, 2010 at 11:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. Kim

    This is a very sad story. The father of these children is so unbelievably selfish. I do not fault him for getting a divorce and moving on with his life; however, to deny the children access to their mother, regardless of her condition, is deplorable and selfish. These children should have been spending time with their mother from day 1. They would love her and accept her unconditionally and not have a shock now. Obviously, the father is the one who can't and has not dealt with his ex-wife's condition. He should be ashamed of himself. He has put his own feelings and inability to deal with this situation ahead of what is best for his children. Again, how selfish.

    July 9, 2010 at 11:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. M

    why doesn't the father just say, "be carful kids because if anything happens to you, I'll shut you away and forget about you too."

    July 9, 2010 at 11:45 | Report abuse | Reply
    • JC

      The Husband lost hope when he divorced her and abandoned her. Who on earth would leave a mother of your three kids dying all alone. The father is a disgrace to society. Those kids have the right to know who gave birth to them...wjhhat if one day a miracle happens and she wakes up/. It wcan happen it sure as hell happened to my mother. My dad brought me to the hospital every day to be with my mother yeah it took me a long time to accept who she was but guess what my mom is fully functioning now and a normal human being. It took time but thank god her two kids were there through it all. I believe it was my brother and I that brought her back. That mother needs her kids period.

      July 10, 2010 at 10:00 | Report abuse |
  44. Rachel

    I think you're all being kind of hard on the father. I think he is misguided, but I think he wants to protect his kids. We all want to protect our kids, but he really is going about it the wrong way. I do think he's wrong, but his intentions are probably good. They are a religious Jewish family and this is not the way whatsoever that a religious Jewish family would go about dealing with something like this. He needs some rabbinical direction here which clearly he is not getting.

    July 9, 2010 at 11:51 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Ian

      I agree. I am not Jewish but my brother married into a Jewish family and my funeral home handles 90+% of the Jewish funerals in my area and one thing I have to say has always impressed me with the Jewish people is they way they persevere through the tough times and embrace it and move on. This certainly isn't a typical reaction from my observation; from a faith based standpoint.

      July 9, 2010 at 12:04 | Report abuse |
  45. Ian

    This is just crazy if you ask me. The kids deserve to see their mother without a doubt. The father says he worried about the kids feeling guilty; well I can appreciate that but they are too young to understand the full details so they needn't know them. When they get older they can be told and they can understand. Its not their fault and that can be explained easily that sometimes things go wrong and the doctors do all they can but they can't fix everything. I'm a funeral director and I hate it when families say they don't want to bring their kids to the funeral cause they don't want to subject the kids to that. Unfortunately, death and illness are a part of life and that's a far better lesson to teach them than one day they're on grandad's lap and the next day he's gone forever with no explanation. The whole situation is despicable. Kids are tough. They're minds are designed that way cause we haven't always lived in such kind times. How many children have survived a child birth while the mother died throughout history? This obviously hasn't created a culture of mommy-homicide guilt in our collective psyche. Personally I wouldn't want to be alive if I were in that state; but if I were and there were even a small chance I could understand the world around, I would want to see them and I would trust my family to tell them what they need to know about me and why they can't blame themselves for what happened. Saying you wouldn't want to see them is rejecting them and to a child nothing is more hurtful and confusing in the long-run than rejection from a parent.

    July 9, 2010 at 11:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. william wallace

    The father as children must be free to continue their lifes
    that being for the best / for the father children as mother.

    To do otherwise would cause grave damage to all, this
    above is not what the mother wishes upon her children.

    Of course its understandable people may feel the mother
    has rights / yet one must be practicale in understanding.

    One must consider whats the best interests of all / not
    only the short term but long term / where bringing least
    amount of pain / the greater amount of happiness to an
    very very sad situation. The fortunes / fruits of life can
    be cruel / joyful due to humanfolly as human endeavor.

    Give the father the children the chance of an full life / in
    heart such the wishes of the mother/ with her blessing.

    July 9, 2010 at 12:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. A victim mom who lost her boys

    This attorney who fights for the mom to see her children,destroyed my boys and mine to make money last year.She is a hoore that she will do anything for money.You give her enough money, she goes to bed with every criminal person.

    July 9, 2010 at 12:28 | Report abuse | Reply
    • sofrito

      From your post alone it is amply clear why you lost your children. Some parents, unlike Abby, are simply not fit to raise hamsters, let alone children. You, my friend, should get a pet rock and be happy to have it.

      July 10, 2010 at 13:21 | Report abuse |
  48. samyu

    Really heartbreaking story!!!!, all of the people who have known her or heard her story please prey for a miracle ,
    GOD please heal her . She has every right to see her children also the children should know their mother.

    July 9, 2010 at 12:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. abesalle

    The Mother has every right to see her children, I don't care where you live, but no court in this world can deny a mother's right to see her children who only exists for the sacrifices she gave.

    July 9, 2010 at 12:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. Mother of One

    That is just so sad, that Abbie is being denied the right to see her children and that the children are also being denied that right.... I mean I am a mother of one and being a mother is the most wonderful gift for any women I think.... I think every mother out there would agree with me when I say that, the bond that a mother has with her child/children a father does not have, as we are the ones that carry that new life for 9months and in that 9 months span we create such a bond that is amazing.... Who does the father think he is by denying them the right to see there mother, any child know when there mother is not around they can sense us... for the most part those children need there mother more then anything in the world. They are only 4yrs of age so they are not going to understand the reason why there mother is sick the way she is, all they know is that she is my mommy and that she is the most wonderful person in the world and that she will always be there for them no matter what. Abbie has every right to be with her children even if she can not do all those great things that you see every other mother doing with or for there children.

    July 9, 2010 at 13:09 | Report abuse | Reply
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