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Athens’ Do-Not-Reususcitate Teen Dies at Age 16

Courtesy of Rene Hoover (Facebook)

Alex Hoover, an Athens teen who found himself in the middle of a right-to-die debate when he and his mother attempted to force his school to respect his do-not-resuscitate order, has died at age 16. Alex was born with aortic and mitral valve stenosis, causing the valves in his heart to narrow and restrict blood flow.

According to DailyMail.com, Alex’s mother Rene drew up legal documents in 2015 to ensure that her son was not revived if his heart began to fail. She said that she did not want her autistic son’s last days of life to be spent in painful medical procedures and medication.

However, the school board in Limestone County said they could not follow Rene’s order if Alex’s heart stopped at school. Alabama law states that do-not-resucitate orders only apply to those over 19 years old. Therefore, the school maintained that if Alex’s heart were to stop, standard medical procedures would be used to keep him alive.

Alex passed away Monday after a hard fought battle with his condition. His mother posted earlier in the day, “Alex won’t make it through the night. He has begun his crossing over. Everything is off. He is unconscious. His lungs are filling up. He’s been surrounded by beloved family and friends all day. Saying goodbye to my hero and my heart.’ Later that night, she added, “My sweet Alex just got his wings.”

A bill was introduced to the Alabama legislature this past year in honor of Alex. It would have allowed parents and terminally-ill minors to create medical orders that guide treatment and would protect schools and individuals from liability. However, the bill failed to pass through the state senate.

Without commentary on the Hoovers’ situation, the broader issue raises complex questions about the sanctity of life. Does “letting nature take its course” reflect a respect that only God chooses who lives and dies and when? Or, does the choice to stop medical intervention fall in the “right-to-die” camp that advocates for so-called “assisted suicide”?

Whatever one’s view of these complex issues, Rene Hoover hopes her son will be remembered for his “happy face and funny quirks.” On the day before his death, she posted, “Remember the love he has shown us all and the the amazing friendships that have been made. We will celebrate his sweet life. Love u all.”

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