A very strange tale has evolved in Reno, Nevada, involving a young lady who sought medical help only to wind up in a condition that has been falsely labeled as “brain death.”
Aden Hailu’s life hangs in the balance because a case of abdominal pain became a horrific nightmare for her and her family. A Nevada Sagebrush newspaper headline describes the problem perfectly, stating “Student Falls into Inexplicable Coma.”
Though we may never understand the source of the original pain, what we do know is that when Aden presented herself to the emergency room on April 1—April Fools’ Day—she complained of severe abdominal pain. Upon admittance to the hospital, she texted her cousin, Metsihate Bertukan, who initially thought it was a joke. Later, Metsihate said that when she “received a picture of Hailu sticking her tongue out in a hospital bed” she called her cousin to determine the reason for her admittance. She found that the events started when Aden went there complaining of this pain. According to a newspaper account of the events,
Results from Hailu’s laboratory tests, such as a pelvic exam, abdominal ultrasound and CAT scans, seemed normal to the doctors. However, Hailu was not responding to the IV fluids given to her, and her vital signs had been inconsistent since she was admitted. Doctors then insisted that Hailu undergo exploratory surgery to detect the source of her illness.
Though doctors could find nothing wrong during the surgery, Aden went into cardiac arrest on the operating table. It was this traumatic incident that has left her in her present comatose state.
In the interim since this first occurred, Hailu’s cousin has taken action. She started a Go Fund Me page, posting: “Her [Aden’s] family is still fighting for her and asked me to post this update for those of you who have been following Aden’s story and wanting to know what’s going on. From her family to you, thank you for those of you who have been donating and those of you who have donated. It’s incredibly appreciated by all of those who care about and love Aden.”
Even now, eight months later, we are still baffled by this mystery. But we do know that, on April 16, Aden was declared “brain dead,” and if not for the valiant efforts of a local attorney and Paul Byrne, M.D., among others, she would likely be really dead.
There have been many twists and turns in Aden’s story since the April 1 admission to the hospital, and it is sadly evident that the judge in her case and at least some physicians believe that it would be in her “best interest” to remove her from life support and let her die. But as Dr. Byrne said early on, “How can it be in the best interest of Aden, a 20-year-old college student, to have her life snuffed out by removing her life support without giving her thyroid hormone, adequate support of respiration, and full nutrition?”
Aden’s family is among those in the low income category, so paying for attorneys and others to help ensure that their daughter is not treated like a dog has been a challenge. By the grace of God as I write this Aden is alive. But her fate is uncertain.
One insightful commentator, retired Catholic bishop Rene Henry Gracida, expressed this cautionary note to each and every one of us:
This case is a warning. You think you are in charge of your own health care and that of your dependents? Think again. You will have to fight for your own life and the life of your loved ones against doctors, hospital ethics panels, and drug companies. The transformation of medicine from “patient-oriented” to “society-oriented” is well underway. If you are judged deficient in “quality of life,” you are likely to be denied treatment and shown the quick exit door.
Aden’s case will be decided by the Nevada Supreme Court, which heard arguments from both sides this past November 3. Its decision could come as early as next week.
In the meantime, we ask you to pray for Aden, for the judges who will decide her fate, and for her valiant family. We ask God to provide a doctor who will step forward from the Nevada medical community and become Aden’s advocate.
Right now justice in this case seems a long shot, but nothing is impossible for God.