Spring/Summer 2018

Pediatric Advocacy Clinic Supports a DNR Bill

Michigan Law’s Pediatric Advocacy Clinic (PAC), under the direction of Clinical Professor Debra Chopp, has been working on legislation that would give parents in Michigan greater control over end-of-life care for their children.

The legislation would amend the Michigan Do-Not-Resuscitate (DNR) Procedure Act to ensure schools are obligated to honor a DNR order in place for a student without being held liable for doing so. 

Chopp testified in February on behalf of the amendment, which would apply to a miniscule, but growing portion of society—school-aged children with terminal illnesses. The legislation was introduced by Senators Rebekah Warren and Rick Jones.

The legislation stems from a PAC case involving Willy Pickett, a child who was born with a brain condition that, doctors speculated, might allow him to reach age 2. He outlived doctors’ predictions by nine years, but not without multiple health setbacks that made his parents sign a DNR for him. 

Washtenaw Intermediate School District, where he was enrolled, refused to honor the DNR without a court order. Sadly, Willy passed away while litigation against the district was pending.

“With updated medical care and procedures, children with incurable diseases are living much longer,” Chopp says. 

“This bill was not just about Willy, but about kids like him, whose parents will know that when the time comes, their child will leave this life as painlessly as possible.”—KD