Fri, Jan 21, 2005 - Page 4 News List

Injured girl may be brain-dead

SLIPPING AWAY There was little hope for the brain-damaged girl at the center of the recent health care controversy, but tests must be run to verify her condition


Police take Dr. Lin Chih-nan, center, of Jen Ai Hospital's neurology department, away for questioning yesterday. Medical staff and Taipei city government officials were being taken in for questioning about the case of the brain-damaged girl, surnamed Chiu, who was turned away from Taipei hospitals earlier this month.


Dr. Chi Ching-shiang (遲景上), director of Taichung Veterans General Hospital's department of pediatrics, together with Liu Ai-min (劉愛敏) of Tung General Hospital in Taichung County, declared yesterday morning that they intend to conduct tests on the brain-damaged child surnamed Chiu to ascertain whether or not she is brain-dead.

According to Lee Ming-chung (李明鍾) the tests can proceed as soon as the girl's parents give their consent.

However, the medical team treating the girl say that they will explore every possibility to try to save her life.

Lee said yesterday that the girl's vital signs, including heartbeat, blood pressure, blood oxygenation level and micturation rate were normal, assisted by a life support system and medication.

However, she is currently in a deep coma, with a cranial pressure reading of 68, and the prognosis is far from optimistic.

According to Chi, a pediatric neurosurgeon who examined the girl yesterday morning, the girl's brain-stem functions have not recovered, despite the efforts of the medical staff at the hospital.

Visual and physical stimuli are failing to produce reflex reactions, and in terms of standard pediatric neurological coma diagnostic procedures, these already indicate brain death.

Nevertheless, said Chi, there are rigorous procedures to be followed before a child can be declared officially brain-dead. A joint examination, agreed to by the child's parents, must first be carried out by at least two neurosurgeons, and this should include a respiratory test as well as an investigation of the reflex responses of the brain-stem.

Lee explained that the brain stem is responsible for our most fundamental bodily functions, such as the heartbeat, respiration, pupil dilation, and control of body temperature and blood pressure.

If the stem is damaged or ceases to function, the chances of survival drop dramatically.

Despite the fact that her vital signs had stabilized on the life support system, the results of these tests show that the girl is still in serious danger.

The girl was sent to Taichung for treatment having been turned away from hospitals in Taipei earlier this month.

The resident doctor on call at the time, Lin Chih-nan (林致男), is likely to be held accountable for breach of duty, according to investigators.

As part of another branch of the investigation, two members of the Da-an district police and a social worker responsible for the girl's case are to appear in court to shed light on the domestic violence situation that led to the girl's injury.

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