LIMESTONE COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) - The CBS television show "The Doctors" featured a story Thursday WHNT News 19 first brought you in October. It's the story of a determined mother's emotional plea to the school board to let her son die in peace when his time comes.
Rene Hoover is the mother of 14-year-old Alex Hoover. She asked the Limestone County School Board to allow her dying son to attend school and for her wishes about his end of life decisions be granted. Rene asked to be able to stay on campus with her son, Alex, and make medical decisions for him. At this time, Alex is not going to school because the board has not approved these wishes. She says she wants her son's quality of life to trump medical capabilities.
Alex is a young boy, full of spirit and personality. However, his life has truly been a struggle since his first breath taken.
“He instantly had to be revived when he was born,” explained Rene. “Life has been a battle.”
Alex was diagnosed with autism as well as aortic mitral stenosis. As a result, he has heart failure; his valves are failing him. The family was advised by a team of physicians that his chance for the best quality of life would be to let nature take its course.
“It’s not about you anymore,” said a tearful Rene Hoover over the decision. “It’s about their quality of life and you have to step in and do what you have to do, outside of what your comfort zone is to protect them.”
An East Limestone student, Alex is physically able to attend school for about four hours a week to see friends. Because of his autism, he needs a consistent routine and is comforted by the friendly faces and atmosphere he has come to know at school. Rene has ordered an Advanced Directive for Alex in case he cannot speak for himself. It orders a DNR: Do not resuscitate. If he begins to pass and is unresponsive, the order directs those around to let nature take its course and let him go. The school would not be able to use any life saving measures on Alex.
“However, they won’t follow this advanced directive,” Rene explained about addressing the issue to the school system. “So it put me in a position where I’m having to fight for my son's rights, which I think is human rights, that we have made this decision for him. But they won’t follow them.”
Alabama State Representative Mac McCutcheon was present at the school board meeting in support of Rene Hoover and to learn about the rights parents and minors have in the state of Alabama. He is advocating for a balance to be found between the school system and medical field in regards to Advanced Directive Laws to support minors.
“Children have the right to a quality of life,” explained McCutcheon . “This puts the school system in a very difficult position and this is a medical profession issue that needs to be handled through the medical profession and school system.”
Hoover was told by the Individual Education Program in the Limestone County School System to address the school board, yet no compromise has been made. She asked for her advanced directive to be honored and for her to stay with Alex. The school has still not granted this family the right to let Alex pass naturally if his time comes while he's at school.
“I just want him to be able to have this time to spend with peers,” said Rene. “They are so supportive and they are declining it.”
What Rene is asking is complex, yet so simple; she pleas for comfort, quality and peace for her son.
“And hopefully at the end of all this,” Rene said through tears. “That the tomorrow after his yesterday, this is going to help a family and another child later on. They deserve that.”
State Representative Mac McCutcheon told us he plans to continue following this issue and shed light on the topic at the state level at the next legislative session.