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Boy with brain tumor improving, family says

Published: Sunday, Nov. 14 2004 12:00 a.m. MST

Jesse Koochin, the 6-year-old boy diagnosed with a brain tumor who became the center of a legal battle, is still on a respirator and, despite being very ill, appears to be making some improvement, according to the family's attorney.

Attorney David Pace said he has spoken with Jesse's parents, Steve and Gayle Koochin, and they believe the boy is doing somewhat better.

"At this point, they're waiting for Jesse to wake up, and they feel they're beating back the cancer because Jesse's heart is still beating," Pace said.

Jesse's blood pressure, according to his parents, is 104 over 48, his heart rate is 93, his oxygen saturation is 99 and his glucose level is 94. "I understand those all are smack-dab in the middle of beautiful ranges," Pace said.

The boy's parents have noticed Jesse's eyes are not so dilated as they were before, and they think that may be a sign of more brain activity, Pace said. The child also jerked back when ice was placed on his arm.

Pace declined to comment on reports that the hospice provider had withdrawn its services.

"I can't comment on Jesse's continuing medical care except to say that the Koochins are happy with the care Jesse is receiving," Pace said, adding that the hospice doctor was still Jesse's monitoring physician.

"He's doing well," Pace said. "He's still in dire circumstances, but he's still in stable condition," almost a month after he was transferred from Primary Children's Medical Center to the custody of his parents, who made arrangements for home care.

Jesse became the center of a heated legal controversy last month after doctors at Primary Children's Medical Center determined the boy was brain dead, and hospital officials announced they would shut off the child's respirator.

His parents hired Pace, who on Oct. 13 got a temporary restraining order from 3rd District Judge Sheila McCleve preventing the hospital from cutting off life support and returning custody of Jesse to his parents. The order later was dissolved by 3rd District Judge William Barrett, who also closed the case.

Primary Children's Medical Center no longer has any involvement in Jesse's care.

The boy is being treated at home with conventional and alternative medical procedures that include, among other things, a respirator and an I.V. that provides fluids and nutrition.

The Koochins brought Jesse to Utah from Florida to get alternative medical treatment for his medulloblastoma, a tumor in his brain and spine. But a practitioner pronounced him too sick to treat and sent the boy to Primary Children's Medical Center on Sept. 15.

There, doctors treated him for a month. However, doctors said that two days before the boy was pronounced dead — a designation that was "taken back" by the court — the tumor had pushed down through the base of his skull. Two different doctors separately concluded Jesse met the conditions for brain death.

But the Koochins refused to accept that and said they would continue to care for Jesse under the supervision of a hospice doctor — and they said they still had hope for a miracle.


E-mail: lindat@desnews.com; lois@desnews.com

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