Breaking: Emergency injunction filed to stop hospital from discontinuing baby's care

UPDATE, 7:15p: Facebook friend Adam received a response from officials at East Tennessee Children's Hospital. An ADF rep told me it expected ETCH to say, "It's all a lie!" as all hospitals seem to do in cases like this, even while agreeing in court to back away.

UPDATE, 3:45p: The ADF lawsuit and pro-life hubbub caused the "ethics panel" to decide today to formally agree not to withdraw care for Baby Gabriel. Thanks to all who reposted and called the hospital!

ADF writes:

The agreement between the hospital and Baby Gabriel's mother has not yet been put in writing. ADF attorneys are withdrawing their motion for a temporary restraining order but will not withdraw the complaint until a written agreement is finalized. Until then, the lawsuit is still active.

ADF legal counsel Matt Bowman said, "We are pleased with the ethic panel's decision but look forward to full resolution in writing so Baby Gabriel's life will no longer be in danger."

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for breaking.jpg1:39p: The Alliance Defense Fund just filed an emergency injunction and restraining order in response to the decision an "ethics panel" at East Tennessee Children's Hospital was scheduled to make a couple hours ago to discontinue care of 9-month-old Gabriel Palmer.

According to an ADF press release...

Baby Gabriel was born prematurely with a genetic abnormality, club foot, and narrow airway, but he flourished when he went home from the hospital in June, where he grew, played, and received physical therapy while going to regular doctor visits. He was fed through a tube and received some oxygen and medications.

gabriel palmer, alert, east tennessee children's hospital.jpg

On an October weekend when the baby's regular doctors were unavailable, Palmer took her son to the ETCH emergency room because of breathing problems. After interventions by the medical staff, the baby went into shock, developed pulmonary vascular disease, and was placed on a respirator.

Despite the complications, Baby Gabriel is in stable condition, and an ETCH doctor determined he could live "a long while." The child is alert, active, and responsive when not sedated. In recent days while awake, he spent time kicking his feet, tried to play with his stuffed animals, listened to his mother and grandmother, and responded to his favorite music.

Here's new video of Gabriel, showing him alert:

The ADF press release continues:

kevin brinkmann, gabriel palmer, easter tennessee chidlren's hospital.jpg

ETCH recently began giving up on Baby Gabriel's care, and on Nov. 13, the head of ETCH's PICU, Dr. Kevin Brinkmann [pictured right], told Palmer that the hospital was going to stop feeding him milk and giving him his medications, as well as disconnect his respirator, because the staff considered his care "futile."

Brinkmann said a formal "ethics panel" meeting at 12p EST Monday would determine whether to stop treating Baby Gabriel, but he noted that the decision was already a foregone conclusion. Ethics panel members have already said they will decide to cease the baby's care despite his mother's objections. ETCH's policies declare that treatment can be withdrawn over the family's objections as soon as the ethics panel makes its decision.

east tennessee children's hospital, gabriel palmer, kevin brinkmann.png

After doctors decided that Baby Gabriel was not worth treating, ETCH started discriminating against him by denying his basic care. Staff stopped bathing him, ceased applying cream to alleviate his chapped skin, reduced his diaper changes, and have not allowed his physical therapy. ETCH doctors have also discouraged Palmer's attempts to have her son transferred to other medical facilities where he could receive treatment.

ADF filed the motion for restraining order and injunction in Palmer v. East Tennessee Children's Hospital Association... which has set a hearing... for 3::30p EST Monday....

Call the ETCH Community Relations Office at 865-541-8165 to express your outrage. I just did.


Ethics Panel? Poppycock!

Death Panel! They have been here for some time, folks. Let us never forget children like Dylan Walborn, publicly starved to death here in Denver in 2005 for the crime of having cerebral palsy! This is not an isolated case, and Children's Hospital here in Denver advised and supervised that torturous death here in Denver, and then admitted they have several cases like that every year. The Denver Post did a positive puff piece on Dylan being slowly starved to death, how right and good it was. The police and district attorney knew, and did nothing.

But Gabriel is the one who needs us now. He may have days or just hours to live. Contact the hospital - their contact info is at their website, which is extremely easy to Google. Call them before it's too late.

Posted by: Jamie Schofield at November 23, 2009 1:50 PM

You report that the hospital "discouraged Palmer's attempts to have her son transferred to other medical facilities where he could receive treatment." Is the mother not allowed to bathe her baby? Is she being physically blocked from attending to him? They are refusing basic care now, no bathing, and wont change his diapers until the... Read more smell becomes too bad for the staff to take, apparently. Is she and others physically blocked from the baby, now? That part confuses me. If I were the dad, they'd be tasing me right about now.

Posted by: Jamie Schofield at November 23, 2009 2:15 PM

This is what I deal with in Texas.

Posted by: Jacqueline at November 23, 2009 2:19 PM

I just called the hospital and was sent to the voice mail for Jessica Chambers, Guest Relations. I left a message!

Posted by: Jeanne Gawdun at November 23, 2009 2:20 PM

Time for pro lifers to visit the new frontier of humanism's Doctor Death: health care rationing killers who sit on these panels and decide to kill innocent people in worship of the almighty dollar and humanist/eugenics ideology.

Visit the home of Dr. Death, Kevin Brinkmann, and let everyone know he kills other people's handicapped children rather than bother with healing them.

Might work find in Europe where the subjects are docile and march to their death under socialized medical death w/o question. Not here, no now, not ever. Our ethics concerning human life do not match that of abortionists nor pigs who sit on death panels.

Posted by: Sara at November 23, 2009 2:46 PM

I, also called and left a message about their "Death Panel" decision!

I am livid over this!

Posted by: Juan at November 23, 2009 2:50 PM

Absurd-- Babies can live an awesome life even on a ventilator. My nephew was born having to breathe on a ventilator and he is a happy bubbly child who just reached his 4th b-day. He has a condition that is considered incompatible with life but his family did not give up on him and although reluctant neither did his doctors. My nephew's Story

Posted by: Deana at November 23, 2009 2:57 PM

"the hospital was going to stop feeding him milk "

I left the hospital a message to this effect that, if this is in fact true, the parents should report this to the state's licensing board for hospitals, child protective services, and law enforcement. I am in fact tempted to forward this story to them myself.

There are no imaginable circumstances, even when a patient chooses to forgo heroic end of life treatment under a living will, that denying food and water to a patient who is willing to eat and drink could be considered ethical, and it might even be considered abusive (or worse). As an example, a Pennsylvania living will allows a person to refuse "artificial nutrition and hydration" (a feeding tube), but nowhere is a health care provider allowed under ANY circumstances to deny somebody food and liquids by mouth.

"Staff stopped bathing him, ceased applying cream to alleviate his chapped skin, reduced his diaper changes," also sounds like abuse of a patient. If a nursing home did this to a terminally ill resident, licensing and regulatory authorities would come down on it like a ton of bricks.

Posted by: Bill at November 23, 2009 3:00 PM

Also, I encourage everyone to call churches in that area and ask them to get involved. We need life minded folks standing in front of the hospital demanding life!

Posted by: Adam Briggs at November 23, 2009 3:09 PM

Gee, I thought this was only supposed to happen with the Government doing it.

HMOs have death panels. Right now.

The Government won't.

Posted by: ignatz at November 23, 2009 3:13 PM

I reported these allegations (citing the Alliance Defense Fund), specifically "Staff stopped bathing him, ceased applying cream to alleviate his chapped skin, reduced his diaper changes," and "the hospital was going to stop feeding him milk" to
Health Care Facilities Complaint Hot-Line (877) 287-0010

There was no answer but I left my phone number and said that, if they gave me an E-mail address, I would send the link to the Alliance Defense Fund article. Also "at"

Posted by: Bill at November 23, 2009 3:25 PM

Thank you Bill!! I just called ETCH and left a message.

Posted by: carla Author Profile Page at November 23, 2009 3:28 PM

ignatz, how do you know Gabriel has an HMO? The complaint describes the mother as indigent, so if he has coverage, it is likely to be government insurance. Even if he has an HMO, HMOs do not deny care. They only deny payment for care. The hospital is not obligated to withdraw care if an HMO won't cover treatment. If Gabriel had an HMO, the attorneys would likely be appealing the denial to the insurance company in addition to seeking relief from the court. I didn't see anything about that in the complaint.

In any case, the hospital has backed down.

Posted by: Fed Up at November 23, 2009 3:42 PM

My daughter was born with Down's syndrome and cystic fibrosis. She went into respiratory distress at two months of age because she aspirated her feedings into her lungs. She ended up with a feeding tube and on a respirator for a time. She is going to be five years old on December 13 and I could not be more proud. She is tenacious, stubborn and sparkles when she walks in a room. Thank God they let her live.

Keep fighting Gabriel. Our prayers are with you.

Posted by: politicaljules at November 23, 2009 3:44 PM

Re: "In any case, the hospital has backed down."

It doesn't matter. If the allegations about denial of basic care are true, this needs to be dealt with by licensing and regulatory authorities. The fact that they do the right thing when confronted by lawyers does not mean they will not (if the allegations are true) repeat the alleged behavior with some other patient.

Posted by: Bill at November 23, 2009 4:00 PM

I just can't believe it...right here in America that we've come to THIS. "It's cheaper for us if you die, so we'll let you". Live on, baby Gabriel!

Posted by: Pamela at November 23, 2009 4:16 PM

Bill @ 4:00PM, I agree. I was simply posting a link to an update.

Posted by: Fed Up at November 23, 2009 4:50 PM

I was under the impression that ETCH was a NOT-FOR-PROFIT hospital !!! This is even MORE outrageous than "Insured vs Uninsured"

Posted by: Daniel Dirk Horvath at November 23, 2009 4:51 PM

Maybe it's because I have a baby a home right now that this hits me so emotionally, but I am nauseated by this. And really angry.

How DARE anyone choose to stop feeding this child, or treating this child like a precious little human being! What kind of sick doctor IS this?

When I hear about things like this, it just makes me cry out, "Come quickly, Lord Jesus!" What a world we live in. It grieves me so much.

Posted by: Kelli Author Profile Page at November 23, 2009 5:03 PM

Me too, Kel!!!

I cannot believe the nurses stopped changing his diapers as much.......he is in their care!!

Posted by: carla Author Profile Page at November 23, 2009 5:19 PM

Thank you for your prayers & support for Baby Gabriel.

It was because of your prayers & concern - now Baby Gabriel will continue to receive care!

We will continue to stay on this issue! Please stay tuned to this case and others that we fight for.

You can get daily updates by following us on Facebook at or

Again, thank you for your prayers & support!

Posted by: Alliance Defense Fund at November 23, 2009 5:38 PM

It is not just you Kelli. I cried when I read it and I could not even tell my husband the entire story without choking up. I cry happy tears knowing that precious gabe will be allowed to live.

I am really glad people were calling the hospital, and I think it scared the so called 'ethics' panel. Good. Time for them to be scared.

I have had enough and I aint gonna take it any more. Progressive means pro-death-ives. No more being sheeple and rolling over when they make their ultimatums.

I will question with boldness and stick to my values. God help those that try to take the lives of our very most innocent Americans cause it would be too messy for them to deal with.

ONLY GOD MAKES THAT DECISION, NOT MAN. The rules are quite clear on that one and I intend to stick to it.

Posted by: politicaljules at November 23, 2009 5:38 PM

All I could think when I watched the video of that little man was "What if he were MY little man?"

Thank you, ADF, for coming to Gabriel's defense!

Posted by: Kelli Author Profile Page at November 23, 2009 5:43 PM

It should be up to the parents. We have had two baby boys born with a fatal genetic disorder and had to make the decision no parent ever wants to make.

We are very thankful that our "private" insurance allowed us to pursue every reasonable option to save them.

This obviously hits home for us.

Posted by: Stu at November 23, 2009 5:51 PM

The denial of care (which would have happened if it hadn't been for ADF getting involved) is just a taste of what will happen if Obamacare is signed into law.

Posted by: LizFromNebraska at November 23, 2009 7:18 PM

Yes, there are death panels now. HMO's are rationing care, too. It is miniscule, compared to what it will be like with Government Run Health Care. The worst is yet to come!

The evil act of withholding food, water and even life saving treatment is done on a small scale, with hopes people who respect life won't hear about it, or if they do, there is an attempt to make them look foolish.

God is the author of life! All life is valuable and precious!

Posted by: azgrandma at November 23, 2009 8:19 PM

I do not think all parents think like you. My best friend's child was born with Down's syndrome as well, but his birth mother did not want him. They were withholding care from this innocent child until my friend stepped in and adopted him just in time. Keeping all life sacred and in God's hands rather than mans makes things allot easier.

Posted by: politicaljules at November 23, 2009 10:15 PM

Thats what I was thinking too....what about these awful heartless nurses? I don't care if I was told to stop care for an infant...I WOULDN'T DO IT! I would still put cream on his chapped little bottom and change his diapers. SICK! SICK! SICK!

I am so angry! I am angry that these MONSTERS are trying to remove care for a defenseless child! I am angry they are not respecting the mother's CHOICE (theres that golden word) that her son LIVE! I am scared to death because I am just starting my family...what if my son ever falls ill or any future child I give birth to be less than perfect? Will I have to fight like this in the future? I just prayed God would remove every evil man or woman standing there imposing a death sentence on this little boy. Let them lose their jobs, let them get cancer, let them wrap their cars around a tree. Confuse and confound them Lord and remove those who would raise their hands against this innocent child created in Your image! Psalm 70

That story about little Dylan being starved to death. I want to SCREAM!!! How can any mother stand there as her child is starved to death! How can you sleep at night knowing your child is suffering...I have no more words. I am heartbroken and ANGRY!!!!!

Posted by: Sydney M. at November 23, 2009 11:15 PM

This is just sounds bizarre. As a nurse there are a thousand things about this story that don't add up to me. If this hospital is truly withdrawing care on Gabriel they are WAAAAY out of line.

Though, I was shocked to find that the hospital where I am a NICU nurse "withdrew care" on an infant a few weeks ago by just letting her starve to death. I didn't think that was allowed, but in talking to other nurses who have worked at various facilities, it seems as though it happens more than you think.

Posted by: Allison at November 24, 2009 8:32 AM

I can hardly bear to hear that it happens...yet it happens all the time!!

What can you do to change things at your hospital?
Jill Stanek knows what that feels like.......

Posted by: carla Author Profile Page at November 24, 2009 8:39 AM

WHY is DEATH always pushed as the most logical or most humane choice???!!

A mother's choice to fight for her child's life is noble and right and good!

Posted by: carla Author Profile Page at November 24, 2009 8:41 AM

This is absolutely DISGUSTING! I am so angry right now at the hospital's treatment of this sweet little boy.

I certainly hope the mother is going to pursue complaints with the proper authorities. How dare they treat this child in this manner?! Even if he were in a coma and dying, they should still at least make him comfortable. He's got a lot of life to live, how dare the hospital decide they want to take that away from him!

I hope the mother will have him transferred to a superior facility as soon as possible. Even if the lawyers *make* them care properly for the child, you can bet they won't be happy about it and they will do as little as they can get by with. That child deserves better care than that.

I have two little boys of my own and expect a third in a couple of months. I know if this were happening to my child I would be bringing the whole world down on these disgusting creeps. And living at the hospital to take care of the baby myself while I waited to complete a transfer.

Posted by: army_wife at November 24, 2009 8:47 AM

"Though, I was shocked to find that the hospital where I am a NICU nurse "withdrew care" on an infant a few weeks ago by just letting her starve to death. I didn't think that was allowed, but in talking to other nurses who have worked at various facilities, it seems as though it happens more than you think.
Posted by: Allison at November 24, 2009 8:32 AM"

Report it to the state board that licenses hospitals (state health department); I already reported ETCH in that manner, and faxed the TN health department a copy of the Alliance Defense Fund allegations. (In fairness to ETCH, these are only allegations until proven, but they are obviously serious enough to require investigation.) Furthermore, this hospital and yours might be reportable to Child Protective Services because withholding nutrition from a child is child abuse. Not legal advice, I am not an attorney.

There might be anonymous ways you could report your hospital (as long as you could supply proof of the allegations in question without having to testify in person) to avoid retaliation as a whistle blower. We just had a situation in Northeast PA where two judges are under indictment for railroading juvenile defendants to privately-owned care facilities, with money changing hands. Hundreds if not thousands of children and teens had their lives messed up because people who saw, or suspected, what was going on did not speak up about it.

Posted by: Bill at November 24, 2009 11:31 AM

ETCH's side of the story: it claims that no care was withheld.

"Statement regarding Gabriel Palmer from Keith Goodwin, President/CEO of East Tennessee Children’s Hospital

Monday, November 23, 2009 – 4:45 p.m.

There has been much interest regarding Gabriel Palmer, who is a patient at East Tennessee Children’s Hospital currently in critical condition. There also have been inaccurate allegations regarding Gabriel’s care while at Children’s Hospital. There has been particular interest in a meeting that took place earlier today involving the child’s family and members of his medical care team at Children’s Hospital.

In critical care situations like Gabriel’s, it is not uncommon to reach a place in the child’s treatment where discussions are held to see how best to proceed. When this situation occurs, input both from the family and from the child’s medical team is solicited. That is what was being addressed today, because the best interests of the child and family are always at the forefront of everything we do. Specifics of the discussion are a private matter, and the hospital is not at liberty to discuss the proceedings.

We have and will continue to provide the highest quality of care for Gabriel and every child at Children’s Hospital. No care has been withheld from Gabriel, and our medical team continues to work with the family to look at any possibilities that can be identified for his continued treatment."

Posted by: Bill at November 24, 2009 2:16 PM

Reading about this saddens me. I am a Christian...and hope that I would hold myself to a higher standard than Ms. Stanek regarding her reporting. I, as many people, want the best for baby Gabriel. However, I will reserve my outrage until all of the facts are out...and just because an ADF lawyer says something doesn't make it fact. I'm disappointed that a group of Christian lawyers would disparage a hospital who's sole reason for existance is to improve or save the lives of children, and disparage a Doctor who spends many nights napping on a cot at the hospital versus sleeping in his bed at home for the sake of children.

The allegations about "Staff stopped bathing him, ceased applying cream to alleviate his chapped skin, reduced his diaper changes,"...come on...common sense should tell you that this is absurd. Parents, all parents, stay with children this ill and have daily interaction with all of the Doctors and Nurses. To allege such a thing is a bit silly.

Also, as a point of fact, Dr. Brinkmann is definitely not the "head of ETCH PICU". Even the most basic investigation should point out this fact.

Again, as a Christian, I am so saddened by this all of this. We are supposed to hold ourselves to higher standards... not supposedly support baby Gabriel by saying malicious things about a hospital and Doctor that does everything possible to help children....which people would line up to agree with. I encourage people to gather facts, true facts, before you say something negative about good people.

Posted by: Jason K at November 24, 2009 3:38 PM

They wanted to end his medical care, refuse him diaper changes, refuse to feed him......we are merely saying NO, that is NOT right. That is the CHRISTIAN thing to do, Jason, isn't it? Defend the weak?

What would Jesus do in this situation? Would he stand up for the vulnerable child? Or would he sit around on his hands and let the nurses and doctors stop caring for this precious child?

Posted by: LizFromNebraska at November 24, 2009 4:58 PM

Anonymous comments are not allowed. Please choose a name to post your comment. Thank you!

Posted by: Kelli Author Profile Page at November 26, 2009 10:32 AM

To all the nay sayers who would prefer to side with the hospital over the child, I am horrified! You must not be aware that care is withheld from disabled children ALL THE TIME!

If you refuse to see that truth, then just read the comments above of the stories of the same thing happening. How about Terry Schivo? While she was not a child, her parents desperately tried to stop her death.

If you are going to err on ANY side, you need to err on the side of the child. That is unless you are trying to make the hospital or the Doctor look better. That is my suspicion. The people siding with the hospital are probably from the hospital. You are doing more damage to the hospital by trying to prove that they are better than they are. If you had just kept your mouth shut, people would have appreciated that the hospital reversed it's decision and moved on.

At any rate, those siding with the hospital appear as heartless as a brick. Shame on you for trying to pull one over on caring loving people who showed genuine kindness and concern for a mother and child who almost fell victim to what has happened to so many children before them.

Posted by: politicaljules at November 26, 2009 1:13 PM