Sunday, August 26, 2007

When Seven is a Good Day

Aching. Burning. Cramping. Cutting. Deep. Dull. Excruciating. Exhausting. Gnawing. Intense. Nagging. Nauseating. Numb. Penetrating. Pinching. Pins and needles. Radiating. Sharp. Shooting. Stabbing. Stinging. Throbbing.

For close to two decades, pain has been my nearly constant companion. I cannot tell you exactly when it started. There was no trauma; no blunt-force impact, no onset of injury. It was not job related; and, it has never gone completely away.

I have been diagnosed (only later to be undiagnosed by another doctor) with rheumatoid arthritis (and the regular kind), peripheral neuropathy, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, sciatica, muscle strain, pes planus (flat feet), ligament strain, over-exertion, and previous knee and/or hip injury.

I have been delirious and incontinent with pain. At times, it is so punishing, I cannot walk, and my legs feel weak. I then rely on a cane or crutch for support. I stopped climbing stairs. Then, I just stopped moving; and gained 100 pounds.

About 5 years ago, I got a scooter to help me be more mobile. Though the medical and outside world saw walking (or not walking) as an exercise or physical therapy issue; the scooter was a quality of life issue for me. At that point, I had none. With a scooter, I could enjoy the park, explore antique malls, take a stroll with my sweetie, etc.

Looking for a Cure

My doctors, other professionals, extended family and others encouraged me to lose weight saying I would feel better. My weight fluctuated up and down… with no discernable change in my leg pain.

They encouraged me to eat healthier; that might do the trick.

Vegetarians wanted me to stop eating meat, red meat in particular; I developed a taste for sushi and tofu. I bought non-genetically modified organic foods at the farmer’s market.

I ate only whole-grains; then stopped eating grains altogether. I reduced my fat intake, caloric intake, fluid intake. You name it… I tried it, with little or no impact on the intensity of the pain. Most people, professional or otherwise would say, “You didn’t give [insert dietary alteration/restriction here] a long enough trial.”

One woman, the leader of a pain support group, was sure that if I gave myself regular high colonics, I would feel better.

I have worn orthotics and braces without relief.

At one time or another, I was under the care of a physical therapist, sports medicine doctor, chiropractor, acupuncturist, foot reflexologist, biofeedback technician, psychologist, and psychiatrist. All were certain they could help me initially, then as they saw “cure" was not in my immediate future, they all lost interest. Every one of them said something akin to, “You have to want to be better.”

I looked for, but could not find a voodoo witchdoctor to remove my curse, but the yellow pages have no such subcategory.

I have been on Prozac, Elavil, Wellbutrin, Buspar, Paxil, Zoloft, and St. John’s Wort, at one time or another. I took Neurontin and Gabitril, neuropathic blocking agents; they didn't help. I took Valium and Flexeril to relax muscles. I have also taken Altram, Darvocet, Vicodin, Percocet, and Percodan singly, or in combination with other drugs for pain.

About six years ago, I thought I found the cure. A sleep specialist diagnosed me with sleep apnea. I woke with no pain the first night I slept through with the assistive device that ensured I would not stop breathing. It was invigorating, albeit short-lived. Within a week, the leg pain was back.

Professionals evaluate my pain on a number of pain scales including:

  • Visual Analog Scales
  • Numeric Pain Intensity Scale
  • Simple Descriptive Pain Intensity Scale
  • Graphic Rating Scale
  • Verbal Rating Scale
  • Pain Faces Scale
  • And more.

Comfort & Thanksgiving

Today is a good day. Last week I had a new procedure; an epidural steroid injection and I feel better. I do not know what it holds for the future, but the literature implies it is not a long term solution. I am hopeful and cautious at the same time.

But with this clearer head, free of narcotics, I want to say this… it is family and my friends and colleagues with disabilities who sustain me. They have not doubted my pain, or made light of it. They think I am neither dramatic nor psychosomatic. They encouraged me to know myself and my body; and when I finished looking, they were satisfied with my introspection.

Thank you.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

ABC disses Kucinich

It's 3:10 AM and I can't sleep. I got the letter below from the Kucinich Campaign yesterday (today?); it has me bugged. Clearly, from the letter, ABC is not treating the Kucinich equally.

He is the only
pro-peace, pro-working class, pro-woman, for full marriage rights (not just civil unions) for gays and lesbians, for universal-single payer healthcare and environmentally friendly,candidate we have; and he is all wrapped up into one small but mighty package.

E
ven if you hate the Kucinich and oppose every position he has, I hope you support the idea that all the candiciates should be treated equally by the media.

I encourage you to copy the list of complaints in the Kucinich Campaign letter against ABC (the letter is below), paste them into the
Politics message boards and comments & suggestions email page, and tell them to answer the questions.

Then post the same message at NBC, CNN, & CBS (scroll down to the bottom of the CBS page and click contact us.) I guess you could try FOX, if you're feeling particularly snarky (I, apparently, am not).

Here's the letter.

The Kucinich campaign is still awaiting an official response from ABC News about the unexplained – some have charged "inexplicable" - way in which the network has handled its post-debate online coverage of Ohio Congressman and Democratic Presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich over the past few days.

Among the "outrages" that have energized tens of thousands of Kucinich supporters - and even non-supporters - thousands of whom have flooded the ABC News website and other online news sites with comments of protest:

  • Congressman Kucinich was apparently deliberately cropped out of a "Politics Page" photo of the candidates.
  • Sometime Monday afternoon, after Congressman Kucinich took a commanding lead in ABC's own on-line "Who won the Democratic debate" survey, the survey was dropped from prominence on the website.
  • ABC News has not officially reported the results of its online survey.
  • After the results of that survey showed Congressman Kucinich winning handily, ABC News, sometime Monday afternoon, replaced the original survey with a second survey asking "Who is winning the Democratic debate?"
  • During the early voting Monday afternoon and evening, U.S. Senator Barack Obama was in the lead. By sometime late Monday or early Tuesday morning, Congressman Kucinich regained the lead by a wide margin in this second survey.
  • Sometime Tuesday morning, ABC News apparently dropped the second survey from prominence or killed it entirely.
  • AND, as every viewer of the nationally televised Sunday Presidential forum is aware, Congressman Kucinich was not given an opportunity to answer a question from moderator George Stephanopoulos until 28 minutes into the program.

The campaign submitted objections and inquiries to ABC News representatives on Monday and Tuesday. ABC News representatives have failed to respond - or even acknowledge - those objections and inquiries.

Stayed tuned for further details.

Strength Through Peace,
Kucinich for President 2008


Consider putting this on your website/blog or emailing it around. Thanks.

Now it's 4:10 AM. :::sigh::: I wonder what I am going to do now.

Monday, August 20, 2007

A Forgotten, Lonely Place

This powerful story appeared in my local paper. The author gave me permission to print it here.

For those not in this area, the institution mentioned in the article was closed a few years ago amidst charges of neglect, abuse and deaths. Part of the grounds, called "the farm", is now a prison. The state is making motions to reopen the institution, under a new name, Lincoln Estates.

If they do, Lincoln Estates will be the new name for Lincoln Developmental Center which was a new name for Lincoln State School. Lincoln State School was the new name for Lincoln State School and Colony. Lincoln State School and Colony was the new name for Lincoln Asylum. Lincoln Asylum was the new name for The State Hospital for the Insane.

No matter what they call it, they cannot dress up an institution. It is a prison for people whose only crime is having a disability.
__________________

A Forgotten, Lonely Place

by Dave Bakke
State Journal-Register,
Friday, August 10, 2007

There is an old cemetery on the grounds of one of the prisons in Lincoln.

It is not the final resting place of prisoners. There are secrets buried here.

Visitors need permission to enter this cemetery. Permission to visit was granted me by Lincoln Correctional Center warden Carolyn Trancoso. After checking in at the office, I drove (slowly) past the fence, the signs warning vehicles to stop under the guard towers.

I was at the cemetery before I knew I was at the cemetery. It does not look like a traditional cemetery. Instead, there are rows upon rows of small grave markers, most barely visible inches above the ground. A few stones have sunk below the surface. There are hundreds of graves here, but not a flower, a wreath or any sign that anyone has come to visit.

Here lie residents of the Lincoln State School and Colony*, later known as the Lincoln Developmental Center.

For the better part of a century, the institution was a notorious hellhole where people with mental disabilities were stockpiled, medicated and forgotten. In the 19th century, it was known as the State Hospital for the Insane. By 1945, there were 5,000 patients and only three doctors.

It was also used as a “home for unwed mothers,” in the quaint term of the time. Some of those babies are buried here, too. I saw graves of those who were born and died in the same year.

The Lincoln State School and Colony was self-contained. It had its own power plant, its own hospital, its own farm and its own livestock for food. Vegetables were canned on-site. Residents were used as free labor until the Illinois legislature shut down the farm. But real reform didn’t arrive until the mid-1970s. Most of these people were buried prior to that.

There are no reminders of the State Colony here anymore. This is a lonely place, just yards from the double razor wire and high mesh gates of the prison.

From their towers, the guards watch deer roam among the graves. Usually, deer are the only living things that come here, other than the person who mows the grass. Trancoso says a few visitors come around Memorial Day.

Some of these graves are inches from a gravel road that winds behind the prison. Most of the stones show simply a name, a year of birth and a year of death.

Some of these people drowned in Salt Creek while trying to run away. Others died of neglect. The dates on the stone show that most were young. 15 years old. 8 years old. 23. 9. 13.

I counted the graves showing the date of death as 1960. There were 24 women and 11 men. That’s almost three deaths at a state institution every month. No hearings were called. No investigations were launched.

What are their stories? Why were they here? How did they die? The oldest grave I found was from 1905, but the institution is older than that. Where are those graves?

Among the rows of small, triangular stones are three more elaborate markers. One of them reads: “Alva Gamble April 12, 1885-Dec. 4, 1905 Gone But Not Forgotten.” Though it’s only three feet high, Alva’s stone towers above the others. Who was she? Why is her stone different?

There are three sections to this cemetery. The last one I visited was across the gravel road to the west. Most of these graves are from the mid-1960s onward. Farther west, the graves are newer. 1995. 1999. 2007.

The cemetery is rarely used, but it happens. A young man was buried there on March 11.

Don Peasley of Peasley’s Funeral Home in Lincoln buried him. It was Don’s first funeral at that cemetery. But the deceased, he says, had no known family and lived in a group home for the disabled. There was nowhere else to bury him.

In the middle of a spring downpour, Don and a few residents of the group home drove slowly behind the prison, past the graves of the babies and the teenagers and laid him to rest. No one will visit him but the deer.

Everybody has a story. The problem is that some of them are boring. If yours is not, contact Dave Bakke at [217] 788-1541 or dave.bakke@sj-r.com. His column appears Wednesday, Friday and Sunday.
_________________

Dave is also the author of Only God Knows His Name: The True Story of John Doe No. 24. It is for sale on Amazon.com.

Book Summary: In 1945, the police in Jacksonville, Illinois found John Doe No. 24. He was deaf and unable to communicate. A judge declared him to be feeble minded and sentenced him to be placed in the Lincoln State School and Colony (the same mentioned in the article above). He remained in the Illinois mental health care system for over thirty years and died at the Sharon Oaks Nursing Home in Peoria Illinois on November 28, 1993.
_____
Mary Chapin Carpenter also wrote a song about John Doe #24.
_____
* The pictures in this blog entry are of the institution. They did not appear in the original article. I collect old post cards of institutions and of people with disabilities as documents of our history and struggle.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

To My Subscribers

Mostly because of my lack of knowledge of HTML code, I really futzed up your subscription. Sorry. Please resubscribe with the knowledge I will never touch the code again. Subscribe to this feed. Thanks!

Murder Most Foul

I was the first one to volunteer to go on a two-week [school integration busing experiment]. It was the best two weeks of my life, as far as my years K [through] 6 are concerned. I could not wait until the list came out to see if my birthday was selected as one to be bused. …when it wasn't, I was still thrilled that we were going to have a group [of black children] attend Riverside Elementary… where I attended. …all the friendships I made back in the 60's… we are still friends to this day; and even though I don't have an opportunity to see anyone that often, my life is still much richer from those friendships.*

I felt like I was reading her personal diary; it was so intimate. I could hear her voice in my head. Like so many of us, she is concerned about race relations. She seems nice. From her 60s references, I guessed her to be about 10 years younger than me. I thought we might be friends. Unfortunately, we will never meet. Her husband threw her off a fourth floor balcony August 14, 2007. Criste Reimer died on contact with the cold hard pavement.

Her husband, Stanley Reimer, said she did not have insurance and he could no longer afford her care. Court documents reveal he felt financially desperate because of his wife’s medical problems; so he walked her to the balcony of their fourth-floor Kansas City apartment, kissed her, and then threw her to her death.

It will come as no surprise to those of us who are documenting the recent murders by family members or healthcare providers, that Criste had disabilities. Several in fact… she had uterine cancer, was partly blind, traumatic brain injury, knee surgeries, neurological disease, hypothyroidism and hydrocephalus. She was also on a host of medications. It is no reason for murder.

The husband readily admits that he threw his wife of 18 years over the balcony because she cost too much. The state of Missouri charged him with second-degree murder.

Second-degree murder is 1) an intentional killing that is not premeditated or planned, nor committed in a reasonable "heat of passion" or 2) a killing caused by dangerous conduct and the offender's obvious lack of concern for human life. [Emphasis Added]

In most states, first-degree murder is an unlawful killing that is both willful and premeditated, meaning that it was committed after planning or "lying in wait" for the victim.

You make the call.

For several months Criste lived at her mother’s home. In mid-July, Stanley came to visit and said he was taking his wife out for dinner. According to Criste’s sisters, she never returned to her mother’s home. In a newspaper interview they also reveal that Stanley tried to keep Criste from calling her mother and sisters.

This is not a story about the country’s healthcare crisis. It is about a man who murdered his wife because she got too expensive and became too much of a burden to him. Like millions of others, he could have declared bankruptcy; he could have divorced her; he could have become an advocate of universal single payer healthcare; he could have taken their story to the legislature. He had options.

They were not without resources. The online Kansas City Star is covering the murder. The reader comments under the articles describe where they lived as “affluent”. Stanley was an accountant for Nelson-Atkins Museum; it is not a minimum wage job. My gut tells me there is much more to this story. Time will judge that assumption.

She is not alone.

  • Daniel Benoit –June 2007 – Murdered by his father.
    Daniel was seven when his dad, Chris, an all-star professional wrestler killed him by first sedating him and then choking him to death. Daniel’s mother, who was also murdered, wanted Chris to stay home and help her with their child with autism. Daniel’s frailty embarrassed Chris; plus taking care of Daniel took too much of his time.

  • Emilio Gonzales –April 2007 – Public outcry and a judge’s order kept doctors from taking Emilio’s life.
    Emilio was 18 months old when caregivers threatened his life. They planned to remove his ventilator at Austin’s Children’s Hospital. Texas’ Futility Law would legally allow them to do that, if they believed he would not recover from his illness. The law allows it even over his parents’ objections. It would most assuredly cause his death. They say it is because they do not want to child to suffer. However, just think of all that money the state could save.

    Emilio died in May 2007, but not because he had his respirator removed. It does not justify or begin to explain why doctors would want to remove his respirator. Does removing the respirator fit under the doctors’ moral obligation to “do no harm” to this child?

  • Nyakiambi Whitten – April 2006 – Butchered by her mother.
    Nyakiambi was 34 years old when her 57-year-old mother stabbed her daughter to death with a butcher knife, put her in a car and drove it off an embankment. She had cerebral palsy and other developmental disabilities. Nyakiambi’s mother killed her because she was “worn out“.

  • Katie McCarron – May 2006 – Suffocated by her mother.
    Katie was three when she was murdered; it was one year earlier, when a doctor diagnosed her with autism. In May 2006, her mother, Karen, a physician, suffocated her. Karen said Katie would not take her afternoon nap. That is when she gathered up Katie and her sister and drove to Grandma’s house; she let them play a few minutes, and then killed Katie. She hid the evidence at a gas station. She later confessed that she put a white plastic bag over Katie’s head and held it there until she died; then recanted her confession. Katie’s mother "wanted a life without autism”. Katie died because she asked too much of her mother.

  • Ruben Navarro – January 2006 – Murdered by a doctor.
    Ruben had adrenal leukodystrophy. He mom acquired a disability too and could no longer care for him. She put him in a nursing home where he received neglectful care. He had a cardiac arrest and sent to a hospital. They told his mother he would die if removed from respirator, which they would do after five days. The California Donor Network got her permission to remove his organs and the transplant doctor, to hasten death gave him 200 milligrams of morphine, 80 of Ativan and poisoned him with Betadine.

The murders we know of are just the tip of the iceberg; many more escape our attention. There is no doubt that the societal view of disability is “better off dead.” Social constructs in our society are set up around that belief. “Do no harm” does not apply to anyone with a disability.

Deborah Kendrick, a Cincinnati-based writer and advocate believes, “[It is] akin to the old Jim Crow South, where no real investigation [was] warranted when a black was murdered by a white.”

It is not enough that we yell at one another about neglect and murders by medical staff and families. We, as advocates, need to take this conversation out of our community and into the streets.

Not Dead Yet is doing a stellar job of bringing these issues to the forefront. Nevertheless, it is not enough. They need, we need, more people - choirs across the country singing out - screaming out against the exterminations of our brothers and sisters with disabilities by the people they should trust the most.



*I got the passage from Amazon.com. Criste wrote it in reaction to Patricia Raybon’s book, My First White Friend: Confessions on Race, Love and Forgiveness.

Read a related article here

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Solidarity: A New Law of the Jungle

The first thing one recent morning, even before the caffeine had a chance to kick in, a co-worker, bubbling over with excitement, came into my office asking, "Did you see them? Did you see the water buffalo last night?"

I was pretty sure I hadn't, since I live in a city, in North America, and there were no stories about escaping zoo animals in the paper.

He wasn't about to let my confusion or sarcasm dampen his spirits, and directed me to YouTube and the "Battle at Kruger", an eight-minute video. If you have not seen it, you must!

Go watch the entire video; it's a nail biter. About 1/3rd of the way through it, you'll want to stop watching. Do not stop; close your eyes if you must, but watch it all. It ends well. Go now. I'll wait here. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LU8DDYz68kM

The video shows a battle between a pride of lions and a herd of water buffalo at South Africa's Kruger National Park at watering hole. The huge herd approaches the watering hole. A pride of lions lay in wait, rush the herd and capture a baby water buffalo. Panicked, the herd runs off to protect their own lives, then re-group. En mass they tentatively approach the pride of lions in the act of killing the baby water buffalo. Two forcefully charge and two lions run off. Emboldened by the acts of a few, the herd surrounded the stunned lions who astutely release their choke-hold on the baby water buffalo. He walks back and disappears into the herd.

It is the perfect metaphor of how, together, we can get things done. Solidarity-- without it, we're lunch.

When you watch the video you'll see that while they numbered many, most were hesitant. Behind the "front line" there was angst and trepidation. You can actually see them shaking. That is perfectly okay. They were there.

Their heroism was standing with the others to show the lions that they were unified and would not stop until they got the baby back. They didn't have to toss a lion into the air. It was enough that they stood with those who did. The crowd behind the more aggressive water buffalo ensured that neither the fighters, or baby would become another meal for the "kings of the jungle".

Sometimes it feels like we're being eaten alive by the powerful in our fight for equal rights. Nursing homes, hospitals, and insurance company lobbies contribute mightily to re-election campaigns and in return, legislators pass laws that favor them, not us. They seem invincible.

Jay Gould, a railway baron, spoke for the power elite when he said "I can hire one half of the working class to kill the other half." I’m becoming more of a conspiracy theorist everyday. They have done a superb job helping us focus on our differences. I firmly believe that the powerful set up a system so we have to fight one another. While we are busy doing that, we aren't even watching them, let alone fighting them.

It does not have to be this way; we can win the fight for universal, single-payer healthcare. We can win the fight to close down institutions and provide community living options. We can win the fight to stop physician-assisted suicide. We can win the fight to give our children with disabilities appropriate educational opportunities. We can win the fight against a 70% unemployment rate for working aged adults with disabilities.

Just like the water buffalo, most of us are not radical activists. While we may support the disability rights causes, we cannot imagine stepping out of the shadows.

If that is how you feel, that's perfectly all right. There is room in the movement for you too. There is room for all of us. If we stand together, if we vote together, even if our knees are knocking, we will win.

Be the water buffalo.

Photo from Inmagine.com


Saturday, August 4, 2007

Diagnosis: Murder

Note: At the end of this article is a link to a site that talks about the medical ethics regarding this case posted on Aug 17, 2007.

The early part of the 21st century, like the middle of the last, may be remembered as a series of horrific events perpetrated on a particular group of people. The exterminations and mutilations of people with disabilities must stop.

Ruben Navarro is the latest person with a disability to lose his life to murderers disguised as doctors and caregivers. To Dr. Hootan Roozrokh, Ruben's life and body were little more than an organ donor factory.

Who was Ruben Navarro?

He was a California native, and just five days short of his 26th birthday when he was murdered. His mother, Rosa Navarro, had planned a little party and bought a Lakers' jersey as a gift. He was her only child.

Rosa told reporters in her Oxnard California home town that Ruben was a cheerful person. He loved comedy, music, Kobe Bryant and all the Lakers. He was an impish tot. Her apartment is full of pictures of Ruben; from a toothless first-grader to his 1998 high school graduation photos.

When Ruben was 10, Rosa noticed he was falling frequently. “Watching Ruben play with other 10-year-olds was like watching Bambi on ice,” she said in a March 2007 interview.

He had adrenal leukodystrophy (ALD). It is a progressive genetic disability that over time breaks down the padding around the nerves throughout the body. That padding is called myelin and without it, nerves can't function normally, or at all. The 1992 movie "Lorenzo's Oil" raised awareness about Ruben’s rare disability. It’s a horrible illness; but it is not nearly as horrible as the atrocities he suffered at the hands of a morally corrupt doctor and an apathetic medical establishment.

Losing A Life

Life wasn't easy for Ruben and Rosa, but they were doing all right. Other than the onward progression of ALD, Ruben was happy. His downward cycle started, a few years after Ruben graduated from high school. Rosa also became disabled and could no longer care for him; with no resources she made the difficult decision to institutionalize him at Casa de Vida, a “skilled” nursing home over one hundred miles away in September, 2005. Five months later, he would be dead.

First he developed bed sores, a sign of neglectful care. Then he had a dangerous seizure, as the direct result of not getting his needed seizure medication. Then on January 29, 2006, staff at the institution found Ruben in his bed, not breathing. At Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center the ER department revived his heart and put him on a respirator to aid his breathing.

When Rosa arrived at the hospital soon after his cardiac arrest, a doctor told her Ruben would die, nothing could be done, and they would “pull the plug” after five days; that was their policy. They asked if she wanted to be in the room when they did it.

That is standard way the medical establishment treats people with disabilities. The rationale seems to be, “He’s got a progressive disability that’s going to kill him eventually, maybe not right now, but it will. Why go through it all? Let’s just withhold treatment."

No doctor informed Rosa of any other options. No one ever told her that Ruben might be able to live without the respirator, or while he had some brain damage, he was far from brain dead. The next few days at his bedside, Rosa thought she saw signs of recovery, but the doctors told her, "no".

Then the ghouls … Hootan Roozrokh and the California Transplant Donor Network entered the picture. Rosa believed the doctors when they told her Ruben would die as soon they removed the respirator. She did not give authorization to remove it; but they already told her they didn’t need her permission and it would be removed in five days. Period. She was ill-informed, grieving and deeply depressed by the loss of her beloved son when the Donor Network called and asked for permission to take his organs.

There is a window of opportunity for harvesting organs. They must be removed within 30-60 minutes after the removal of the respirator. If they are not removed then, the organs are not fresh enough and must be rejected.

At 11:00 pm on February 3, 2006 they wheeled Ruben Navarro into operating room 3, removed his respirator and started watching the clock. He wasn’t dying fast enough.

Violating the hospital's protocol and a state law, Roozrokh took over caring for Navarro before he was declared dead. He ordered a nurse to give Navarro two abnormally high doses of morphine and Ativan to hasten death, according to an investigation by the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Still Ruben hung on.

Roozrokh said, “Let’s give him some more candy,” and the nurse complied once again. Six nurses, doctors and technicians who were in the operating room, made not one move to intervene on Ruben’s behalf. Later in a police investigation interview, one nurse reported that at that point, Ruben was "frothing from the mouth and shivering." And still, he struggled to stay alive.

When the “window of opportunity” passed and Roozrokh could no longer take his organs, Mr. Ruben Navarro was of no use to them. They wheeled him into another room and left him. He died the next day at 8 a.m. apparently alone.

What Happened?

Morphine
He received between 200 to 220 milligrams of morphine, depending on the source. A dose of 120 mg is often fatal. The recommended dose to anesthetize a 1200 pound horse is 136 mg. Reaction to the drug starts almost immediately, and include: drowsiness, nausea, the face swells, the patient feels cold and cyanosis occurs. (Cyanosis is when the extremities turn bluish-gray because the blood vessels in the extremities close down. The body sends the blood to the brain and the heart, trying to protect them from damage). The eyes dilate to pinpoints and do not react to light and dark. Breathing slows down and becomes noisy. The pulse slows and becomes weak. Death is by respiratory failure.

Ativan
At the same time Ruben was getting Morphine, he also received 80 mg of the very powerful drug, Ativan. Since Ativan suppresses the central nervous system (CNS), the manufacturer advises against its simultaneous use with CNS depressant drugs; including morphine. Morbidly overweight people can safely receive intravenous doses around 2 mg. Ruben weighed 80 pounds.

Betadine
In his haste to get the prized booty, Roozrokh inserted a nasal/gastric tube down Ruben’s throat and poured Betadine, an iodine solution, into his stomach. This is a normal sterilization procedure when getting a donor stomach; only, the procedure is supposed to happen after a person dies.

Betadine is not to be taken internally. If it is, the stomach will digest it, causing acute iodine poisoning and the following symptoms: kidney failure, burning the stomach lining, fever, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, circulatory collapse, and strangulation because the throat swells, or fluid fills the lungs.

Crime & Punishment

You’d think the state of California would throw the book at them. You’d be wrong.

Roozrokh is charged with dependent adult abuse, administering a harmful substance and prescribing controlled substances without a legitimate medical purpose. If he is found guilty of all the charges, the maximum sentence for this gruesome murder will be eight measly years.

State law and the network's rules prohibit transplant doctors from getting anywhere close to the potential donor before a declaration of death by an attending physician. Why were no state charges filed for breaking that law?

Prosecutors did not charge Roozrokh with murder because they said the drugs did not cause Ruben's death. Seriously, Ruben received three times the recommended dose of morphine, 40 times the safe dose of Ativan, and had poison forced into his stomach on top of that, how could that NOT cause Ruben’s death?

He did not die of adrenal leukodystrophy; his disease had not progressed that far. Ruben could have enjoyed many more years to watch Kobe dazzle fans on the court. He did not die of the cardiac arrest that sent him to the hospital; he was recovering from that before Roozrokh, et al, got a hold of him.

Now, a year and a half later, the others in operating room 3 say they were very concerned about what Roozrokh was doing. If they were that concerned why didn't they stop it? After the organs could no longer be ripped out of Ruben’s body and Roozrokh left, why didn't just one of them try to undo what the doctor had done? They are as guilty as Roozrokh, but cleared of all charges.

Ruben died at the hand of a sadistic, cold-hearted murderer and six other people watched and/or aided in the administration of massive doses of medication and poison.

Ruben died because the medical establishment thinks a life with disability is not worth living; we’re better off dead. He died because policies make it impossible to get adequate in-home services and supports. He died because we have a for-profit healthcare system where every decision is based on the bottom line.

What are medical ethicists talking about as a result of this case? They are saying people might stop donating organs for fear the same thing might befall them. They ignore the unspeakable crime perpetrated on a 25 year old. If Ruben was able-bodied, he’d be alive. And, if by some great travesty of justice, it happened, one doctor and six others attending the doctor would be up for first-degree, premeditated murder.

How many more like Ruben will be tortured and murdered before the 21st century actually lives up to its promise of equal treatment and enlightenment?

Related article on the medical ethics concerning this murder: Botched organ harvesting: 'Clearly wrong' By R. W. Dellinger

Arnquist, Sarah. Claims In Transplant Case Detailed. The (San Luis Obispo, CA) Aug 7,
2007.

Arnquist, Sarah. Civil Suit In Donor Attempt Broadens. Tribune, The (San Luis Obispo, CA) Page A1, 2007-08-03.

Hoops, Stephanie, He Lives in Her Heart. Ventura County Star, March 2007.

Navarro, Rosa v Hootan Roozrokh, M.D., First Amended Complaint. Case No.: CV070471. July 30, 2007. http://media.sanluisobispo.com/smedia/2007/08/02/14/Comp-Navarro-1AC-FinalRevised-30Jul07.source.prod_affiliate.76.pdf