On September 24, 10-month-old Nick Torres was found lying in water and unconscious in a bathtub. He was taken to the ICU at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston where, after six days on a ventilator, the hospital staff told Nick’s parents they must take their child off life support. The hospital said Nick was not showing any signs of brain activity, and they declared the boy dead.
Nick’s parents, Mario and Ana Patricia Torres, did not accept the hospital’s assertions about their son. They said as long as Nick’s heart was beating on its own, there was a chance he could survive. On September 30, the Torreses sued the hospital to keep Nick on life support.
On Tuesday, Nick Torres was taken off life support Tuesday. According to ABC7, Nick died within hours of arriving back home.
The Legal Battle
According to CNN, the Torreses sought an injunction against the hospital, as well as more than $1 million. Their complaint says the hospital was too quick to decide that Nick was beyond help, particularly as it had only been a few days since the boy was found in the tub.
Texas Children’s Hospital asked the court to deny the injunction. They said multiple evaluations conducted at its medical facilities revealed that Nick Torres had no brain activity. In addition, a brain death exam was performed and it came back positive. The hospital said the child is deceased based on Texas law.
In court documents, Texas Children’s Hospital said not only had Nick developed organ and cardiac failure, but he was also “showing signs of postmortem deterioration.”
“Our hearts are with the entire Torres family as they go through this unimaginable situation,” the hospital told CNN. “We know losing a child is incredibly difficult for any family. Texas Children’s seeks to provide the most compassionate and appropriate care possible to every patient we serve.”
After several appeals, judges ruled in the hospital’s favor. However, this past weekend the hospital agreed to release Nick to go home if the Harris County Medical Examiner approved, which is required by law.
According to ABC7, Nick was released Tuesday afternoon to the custody of his family. Texas Children’s Hospital confirmed that this happened “with the full approval and authorization” of the medical examiner.
Dr. Joseph Varon told the outlet that Nick had been home for two hours when his heart stopped beating.
“The family surrounded the baby. They were praying,” he said. “Everyone was very respectful and praying. Eventually, when I said he had flat-lined, I disconnected him from the respirator. They were very emotional. The last thing you want to see is your children go through this.”
While Varon acknowledged that this was “a natural evolution that was going to happen” there was one thing that stood out to him: the time between Nick’s disconnection from the ventilator at the hospital, and his passing at home.
“Now, the timing is what calls my attention, to be honest with you,” Varon said. “It would appear the baby waited until he got home to move on.”