Introduction When youhave a baby, they are given their HepB vaccination, with parental consent,which then puts them on the vaccination schedule for the next eighteen years oftheir life.
Vaccines not only serve a purpose in protecting weak immune systemsfrom the early weeks of life, but also serve as a purpose in protecting the surroundingcommunity. In March of 2012, Ezekiel Stephan passed away due to the unseen earlysigns and symptoms of bacterial meningitis by his parents, David and ColletStephan. Bacterial Meningitis may be prevented with the meningococcal vaccine. David,the vice president of Truehope Nutritional Support Inc., and his wife werenever ones to vaccinate their children, their three older boys and Ezekiel,rather they preferred natural remedies and supplements from the company. Ezekielwas a 19-month old toddler, with his entire life ahead of him.
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What started as somethinglike croup, and then the flu, the parents leaned more towards the naturalremedies to heal him and get him back to his toddler ways. It was only whenDavid witnessed his son stop breathing that they then began to seek medicalattention, two and a half weeks later, which unfortunately was too late forEzekiel’s fragile body. Thesis Patient autonomyis highly questionable is this case of a chilling death of a toddler, thatcould have been intervened with the appropriate medical attention, at the righttime. The utmost good of the toddler’sparents going against the actual health of the toddler, and their discretion onwhat was bad enough to finally see a doctor. In this paper, I will show theevidence that should have been large enough for David and Collet to see thatsomething is not right with their son, despite their trust for medicalprofessionals. Medical Indications “Bacterial Meningitis is the inflammation of the membranes surroundingyour brain and spinal cord” (Meningitis, 2017).
In most cases, the viral infection is an acute illness and with proper medicalattention it can be cured with only a few complications that can last. Thelonger they wait to see medical professionals, the more chronic the infectionthen becomes. “Ezekiel hadalready been sick for over two weeks with what his parents believed was croupand the flu when suddenly he stopped breathing, prompting his parents to callan ambulance” (Khandaker, 2016).Over the course of the two weeks, the condition of the toddler immenselyworsened, and Ezekiel became acutely ill. With earlier, and proper, medical attention,the likelihood of him surviving would have been greater, with the minor setbackof possible complications that would come from the infection. “According to the official death report, however, the toddlerhad been suffering from bacterial meningitis and neurological dysfunction” (Khandaker, 2016).Patient Preferences Ezekiel wasonly 19-months old, he relied on his parents to make the best decisions forhim, to keep him safe, healthy, and loved.
There’sno denying that his parents did not love him, but rather than the naturalremedies and supplements that they were giving to their son, they should have,instead, sought medical attention. “Afamily friend, also a registered nurse, told the Stephan’s Ezekiel likely had meningitis, Collet researched thedisease and concluded that it was likely a viral version, and not the more seriousbacterial version. She then bought an Echinacea mixture to treat him” (Khandaker, 2016). Echinacea mixture is an herb that is used formany medical treatments, including cold and flu. The herb activates chemicalsin the body that decrease inflammation. “Parentscannot ignore basic standards of care for the children under their charge becauseof their ideology,” (Novella 2016), “Ezekiel’s parents have theprimary responsibility for his care, for providing the basic necessities oflife, and a jury has now found that they failed to do so.” Based on the ideology of the parents, and their naturopathicbeliefs, it was proven that they did not seek medical attention when theyshould have, which then had effects on their son’s wellbeing.
Qualityof Life Dr. Arthur Caplan, head ofmedical ethics at New York University, says “Whatthey did is ethically wrong. You can’t keeptrying alternative things while your child is suffering and clearly not gettingbetter” (Chai 2016). While proven in court, it isevident that David and Collet Stephan put their child’s life at risk, which ultimately ended in a way that could’ve been prevented.
After being on life support for five days, Ezekielpassed away. Ezekiel was only 19-months old, he relied on his parents to keephis quality of life acceptable for his age. Dr. Kirsten Jones, a surgeon fromLethbridge says, “You cannot impose yourpersonal views on your children in a way that endangers their life. Thosechildren have a right to grow up to become independently thinking adults and toform their own moral judgements at that time” (CanadianPost 2016).
As previously stated, if his parents would have sought out medicalattention before he stopped breathing, he could have lived a happy life, withonly a possibility of complications to be the outcome. In the case where he wason life support for the last five days of his life, the doctors pronounced himbrain dead when he arrived to the hospital. The plan of care ultimately stopsthere, you can try to revive this baby, but at the end of the day the qualityof his life would be little to none. That’s whereit gets tricky, do the parents keep him on life support, even though they hadthe most impact on him not getting medical attention? Or do the doctors andparents see his future and how drastically it would have changed? Getting tothe point of Ezekiel’s body being so stiff hehad to lay on a mattress to be transported, “it wasway past the point where they should have received definitive medicalattention. This suggests that the Stephan’s waited longer than typical parents,until the severity of Ezekiel’sillness was undeniable” (Novella 2016).ContextualFeatures In hopes of gettingtheir toddler better, the Stephan’sturned to natural remedies and supplements, “It doesn’t matter that you truly believe Echinacea can help with a seriousinfection (it can’t), you still haveresponsibility to provide actual health care to sick children” (Novella 2016). The parents asked for help from a naturopath, thoseof whom do not base care on scientific standards, rather a homeopathy viewpointthat essentially goes against scientific evidence.
While David and Collet werein court, the jury made sure to inform the judge to “not make their decisions based on ‘sympathy,prejudice, or fear’ which then turned theheads of the Stephan’s claiming “they were laid because the Crown wanted to make an example of themfor not vaccinating their kids” (Khandaker2016). Vaccines have been a hot topic lately, mainly for the reason ofmisinformation that expecting mothers have been receiving from the internet andother sources such as naturopaths. Per the textbook, there is no evidence thatvaccines overwhelm a child’s immune system, proving that “vaccinating children saves 33,000 lives, prevents 14 millioninfections, and saves $10 billion in medical costs” (Munson 2014, pg.12). When vaccinating your children, you are notonly protecting them from the diseases, but you are also protecting thecommunity around you by participating in herd immunity.
“Herd immunity is the greater percentage of population that isimmunized against a given disease, the more less likely an infectious agentwill establish itself and threaten the lives of those who are most vulnerable” (Munson 2014, pg.12). AlternativeOptions Disagreeing withthe actions that the Stephan’s made,it should have been presented clear to them that the remedies they werepracticing were not helping their son get better. Even if Ezekiel just ended uphaving a cold, going to the doctor to just have that valid second opinon wouldhave saved all the grief they are now experiencing. “Those defending the Stephan’s arguethat they did what any parent would do, treat their child as if he had anoridinary illness until it became clear he was seriosuly ill at which time theysought emergency care” (Novella 2016). When achild gets sick even if it is only for a couple days, if under medicalattention, the doctors will run tests to rule out the possibilities ofinfections and disease. It could have been as simple as taking him into thedoctors office as a concerned parent, or for even just a check up.