Nick Torres: Texas 10-month-old dies at home two hours after hospital takes him off life support
Doctors at the hospital had declared Nick brain dead and recommended that he should be taken off life support after no activity was recorded during a brain wave exam
Ten-month-old Nick Torres died at home on Tuesday, October 13, following a long legal battle to keep him on life support. Hospital officials confirmed baby Nick's release to his family in a statement earlier in the day. Dr Joseph Varon, a critical care doctor at Houston's United Memorial Medical Center who took an interest in the case, said he helped Nick's family transport him from the hospital to his home in Harris County, where he died a couple of hours later. “It would appear that the baby waited until he got home so that he could move on,” Dr Varon said, according to KPRC-TV.
Dr Varon recalled the emotional moment Nick's family surrounded him and began praying as his heartbeat started to slow. According to the doctor, the baby boy's heart stopped beating at around 5.15 pm CT. "Unfortunately, the heartbeat of the baby has actually stopped," Dr Varon told reporters. "We were able to safely transport him to his home, where he remained for a couple of hours and then his heart rate slowly went down until it stopped."
“It was very tough,” the doctor noted. “Even the assistants that I brought with me, you could see that they were tearing because it was very emotional.” Baby Nick dominated headlines since late September when he was admitted at Texas Children’s Hospital after being found unresponsive in a bathtub by one of his parents. As previously reported, he was left unattended in the bathroom.
Doctors at the hospital had declared Nick brain dead and recommended that he should be taken off life support after no activity was recorded during a brain wave exam. However, family members pleaded with doctors and moved the courts to keep him on life support because his heart reportedly was still beating. "His heart is still beating, apparently his temperature is still being regulated by some part of his brain," family attorney Kevin Acevedo said at the time. "He may be unconscious but he's not fully brain dead."
On the other hand, the hospital noted that medical evaluations showed "complete cessation of all spontaneous brain activity" and the child was dead under Texas law, court documents stated. Following a series of appeals to the courts, judges decided to let the hospital remove Nick from life support. The lawsuit against the hospital was dismissed on October 13, the same day it released the boy to his family.
"With the full approval and authorization of the Harris County Medical Examiner, Texas Children's released the body to the family. We continue to do everything we reasonably can to support the Torres family in this very tragic and difficult situation," the hospital said in the statement. Dr Varon remembered how the moments before Nick's demise "were very emotional."
"When I saw that the heart was starting to slow down, I brought in the family. The family surrounded the baby," he said. "They were praying. Everybody was very respectful, praying (for) the kid. I think this is going to allow them to have some closure,” the doctor added.