Doctor insisted parents choose starvation and slow death

Baby born with cleft lip now 15

The following comes from a January 31 story on

Here are the Petersons – Quentin, Aidan, and Jodi – and here is their story:

1)   What condition was Aidan born with?

Aidan was born with a bilateral cleft lip and palate. This affects about one in seven hundred children. We had no family history of this condition. All babies at some point in their early development have a cleft, but it spontaneously “knits” together (bringing to mind the Scripture, “You knit me together in my mother’s womb”), unless there is a genetic issue, if the mother is deficient in folate and from certain ethnic groups, or if the mother suffers certain viral illnesses at the time of gestation. In our case, Jodi had contracted the flu very early in pregnancy with a high fever.

2)   When did you/the doctors discover his condition?

On October 7, 1997, our 8-pound, 14-ounce son Aidan was born at a hospital in Modesto, California. Immediately after he was fully delivered, we knew something was wrong. The doctors lowered him out of our sight instead of putting him on Jodi’s stomach and began whispering to each other. That’s when they told us he was born with a bilateral cleft lip and palate. It had not shown up on an ultrasound. We were shocked.

3)   What advice were you given?

The day after he was born, Aidan was taken into the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) because he was unable to breastfeed and was becoming dehydrated and weak. The hospital did not have the type of bottles babies with a cleft use to feed. The hospital pediatrician called my husband into the nursery and advised us to sign Aidan over to the hospital. He told us that we were still young, we could still have other children, and that these kids (kids with cleft lip and palate) tend to have neurological problems; he would require many surgeries that could bankrupt us, and if we were foolish enough to ignore medical advice and take our baby home, he would end right back at the hospital as a “failure to thrive.”

The “treatment plan” the doctor told us was that they’d give our son pain medicine and let him die (of starvation and dehydration). Jodi began to cry and refused, at which point the doctor turned to Quentin and said, “Get her out of here, she’s being irrational.” He thought he would have a better chance at convincing Quentin to leave the baby.

He was wrong. Quentin also refused to sign the papers. We didn’t have a plan and didn’t know where to find help, but we could not fathom abandoning our son to certain death alone. It had to be the grace of God, to give us courage to choose life when the hospital authority was telling us otherwise. It was, for both of us, the absolute scariest time in our lives.

4)   What choice did you make and why?

We chose to fight for our son and love him, and we never regretted that decision.

We couldn’t believe they were giving Aidan this death sentence, but we would not abandon him. We could not imagine anything more heartbreaking than to have a helpless child left alone for the brief entirety of his life. Even if he had one day to live, he would spend that day being loved by us.

Then God’s providence stepped in. A nurse contacted a woman who herself was born with a cleft lip and palate who ran a local support group. She brought us the cleft palate nurser bottles. (These are supposed to be in every hospital, and all nursing and medical staff are to be trained to use them, since it’s a fairly common birth defect.) This meant that our baby was finally able to eat. That hungry baby took his first bottle and rested in our arms. This was an unbelievable blessing. We did take him home, and he thrived. He has had eight surgeries to correct his lip and palate and associated difficulties like ear tubes, bone grafts, and scarring, and we’re anticipating a few more in the future.

5)   Can you tell us about Aidan? What are his interests? What does he like to do with his free time?

Aidan is now 15 years old and in his freshman year of high school. He is a big brother to 13-year-old Devin (brother) and 10-year-old Kiera (sister). They’re home-schooled, and his studies include Latin, logic, literature, and math. Aidan’s a typical teenager and an avid reader, and his interests include animation, writing, history, the military, and aviation. He’s involved in his church’s teen group and is a member of 4H. He loves going out and playing paintball with his buddies. His pets include a dog and eight chickens.

6)   Looking back on the time before Aidan was born and the advice you were given and seeing him now as a 15-year-old, what advice would you give parents in a similar position?

Love your child with complete abandon, every moment that you are blessed to be with him. Love your child for who he is, and don’t let anyone scare you about future issues. No one knows what the future holds – not for us or for our children – but we know that love is eternal. Learn everything you can about whatever ails your child (the internet is a wealth of knowledge).

Fight for your children’s health care. No one will have their best interest at heart but the parents; God has given you the opportunity and responsibility to be their advocate. Every person on this earth has two things in common – we’re all made in the image of God, and none of us are perfect. We all have challenges, but do they diminish our ability to give and receive love? No. So don’t put too much faith in what doctors say – they can be wrong – but put your faith in God, who is never wrong.

7)   Does Aidan have any advice to give? What’s his perspective on this whole situation?

First off, I’d like to speak to everyone with a bilateral cleft lip and palate. You’re normal. The fact is that you’re just like everyone else, but you look somewhat different. I personally like to think it’s an improvement that God bestows on the lucky few and everyone else is just jealous (grinning here).

Looking back on my life, I’m very glad that my parents fought so hard for me, and disappointed that life seems to be so cheap in this generation – much like a passive waste to be disposed of if it doesn’t meet the irrationally perfect standards set forth by today’s murderous society.

What is my perspective on the situation? As I said, the world today disappoints me, and I pray it will soon end its ways. For any and all parents who are stuck in the same or similar situation that my parents were, listen up. Your kid is worth it, be he or she mentally or physically disabled. And as my mom said, if your kid has only one day to live, spend it loving your child.

Put yourself in your kid’s shoes. You have one day to live, no two ways about it. Which is better: to spend that day with your loving parents, or to starve to death while uncaring doctors simply pass you by, not caring at all for your plight? Answer that question, and then make a decision on your kid’s life.

To read the entire story, click here.


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  1. Rod McKuen says:

    GIGO – Garbage Out: At the end of WWII, Adolph Hitler insisted that all Germans participate in his personal gotterdammerung. He had stockpiled sufficient Zyklon B cyanide gas to kill all Germans three times over, and he ordered it used.

    Garbage In: The predecessor of the Final Solution, before any Jews, Priests, Gypsies or Gays were liquidated, before any political prisoners were taken away to the camps, was when little Baby Knauer was born blind, retarded, and missing an arm and a leg. Baby Knauer’s father personally petitioned Hitler to allow for his malthanasia. This first case, in which special permission was granted, paved the way for the systematic program of eliminating “life unworthy of life”. Baby Knauer’s murder was the first pebble in what became the slippery tsunami of scientific, industrialized killing.

    “Surely, in his condition, he would be better off dead. Hitler turned the case over to his personal physician, Karl Brandt, and in 1938 the request was granted. Over the next few months, a committee set out to establish practical means by which such ‘mercy deaths’ could be granted to other children who had ‘no prospect for meaningful life.’ The hospital at Eglfing-Haar, under the direction of Hermann Pfannmuller, M.D., slowly starved many of the disabled children in its care until they died of ‘natural causes.’ Other institutions followed suit, some depriving its small patients of heat rather than food. Medical personnel who were uncomfortable with what they were asked to do were told this was not killing: they were simply withholding treatment and ‘letting nature take its course.’ Over time Pfannmuller set up Hungerhauser (starvation houses) for the elderly. By the end of 1941, euthanasia was simply ‘normal hospital routine.’ ” – “Lessons from History: Euthanasia in Nazi Germany” by PJ King.

    “In an attempt to improve racial fitness, racial policy in the Third Reich targeted many groups, including physically and mentally handicapped children. An early program identified disabled children who were systematically selected and then transferred to various hospital centers where they were actively euthanatized [sic]. The program, directed by mainstream German physicians, was begun on the eve of war and was a harbinger of the evils to come. This article highlights the “scientific thought” that provided the rationale for this policy together with the details of implementation of the active euthanasia program and profiles one of the major participants, Werner Catel, DrMed, who was a distinguished pediatrician.” – JAMA Pediatrics, January 1998, Vol 152, No. 1, ” The ‘First To Perish’ – Child Euthanasia in the Third Reich”, Stefan Parent, MD, CM; Michael Shevell, MD, CM, FRCP. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 1998;152(1):79-86. doi:10.1001/archpedi.152.1.79.

    Population-Controllers / Sexual Freedom Advocates throw contraception and abortion at the poor third-world. Domestically, have you ever heard of any organized program to provide folic acid (B6) to pregnancy prone women? If you haven’t, doesn’t that suggest that prevention is not very high in the medical establishment’s priorities?

    • Your Fellow Catholic says:

      During the Clinton Administration, the government required the addition of folate to a variety of starch-based foods including rice, pasta, and flour. The program was actually more effective at increasing dietary folic acid than planned. This was one of several prevention programs that Clinton enacted, which also included vaccines and prenatal visits.

  2. Maryanne Leonard says:

    We are all imperfect. It is only love that heals us. When our parents love us, it is through them that God’s love can be first felt. When they are not able to love us, the love of God is still everlastingly available to us, but we need the help of others to understand this and learn of God and His great love for each of us. The Catholic Church is the greatest repository of knowledge of the love of God, and when some of our fellow human beings devote themselves to serving both God and ourselves, connecting our hearts to God through sharing the teachings of Jesus Christ with us, it is a great gift and our greatest source of healing our imperfect selves. In this case, the love of parents for their child is touching and inspirational and gives us a glimpse into the healing power of love. When love is given to us, it is entrusted to our hearts and souls and we are to share it with others. This young man is still living with his parents, absorbing their love and teachings, and he sees that the world is sadly imperfect. Let us rejoice in his superb vision and join forces in love to learn to love one another and help the world to heal in all the ways we were taught by Our Lord, Jesus Christ. He taught us to love one another. Let us be about the business of God the Father and love and care for one another so that we all may heal from our countless imperfections.

  3. Anonymous says:

    What does it mean to sign the baby over to the hospital? I’ve never heard of such a thing. Euthanasia for a cleft palate? Huh? This would be 1997 in Modesto, California. How many plastic surgeons are there in California? I’m not doubting the story, but it had to be a crazy doctor.

    • Abeca Christian says:

      Anon it happens more than people know about signing your child over to the doctors. That means letting them do what they think is best. It’s no different when a mum who had her son with cancer, she wanted to try natural alternative treatments because she saw and felt that the chemo was actually making him worst and it seemed like it was killing him. But the state took over and pretty much labeled her actions as child abuse, removed her kid and forced him to be on chemo. I think he was 15 and he wanted to also try natural alternatives. I don’t know what became of her story but I knew that a lot of people on the internet where giving her support, poor mum and poor son.

      • abeca, yes, I know of making your child a ward of the state where you reliquish all parental rights and I know that the courts can terminate parental rights in the case of abuse and neglect. But I have not heard of signing your child over to the hospital. Why would the hospital want that liablitily? Maybe it was just an expression and not a legal situation.

        • Abeca Christian says:

          Well there are times that it is not abuse and they still insist that they know better.

          Oh yes I get what you asking now. Well I think that signing over since it is a baby….and that it would give them permission to do as they will without the parents suing or such? That is what I am gathering.

  4. respectlife says:

    Thank God those parents made a choice for Life. The Holocaust needs to stop!

    As as we mark the fortieth anniversary of Roe v. Wade, let’s take a moment to renew our commitment to overturning this devastating Supreme Court decision by saying this prayer from Pope Benedict XVI.

    Lord Jesus,
    You who faithfully visit and fulfill with your Presence
    the Church and the history of men;
    You who in the miraculous Sacrament of your Body and Blood
    render us participants in divine Life
    and allow us a foretaste of the joy of eternal Life;
    We adore and bless you.

    Prostrated before You, source and lover of Life,
    truly present and alive among us, we beg you.

    Reawaken in us respect for every unborn life,
    make us capable of seeing in the fruit of the maternal womb
    the miraculous work of the Creator,
    open our hearts to generously welcoming every child
    that comes into life.

    Bless all families,
    sanctify the union of spouses,
    render fruitful their love.

    Accompany the choices of legislative assemblies
    with the light of your Spirit,
    so that peoples and nations may recognize and respect
    the sacred nature of life, of every human life.

    Guide the work of scientists and doctors,
    so that all progress contributes to the integral well-being of the person,
    and no one endures suppression or injustice.

    Give creative charity to administrators and economists,
    so they may realize and promote sufficient conditions
    so that young families can serenely embrace
    the birth of new children.

    Console the married couples who suffer
    because they are unable to have children
    and in Your goodness provide for them.

    Teach us all to care for orphaned or abandoned children,
    so they may experience the warmth of your Charity,
    the consolation of your divine Heart.

    Together with Mary, Your Mother, the great believer,
    in whose womb you took on our human nature,
    we wait to receive from You, our Only True Good and Savior,
    the strength to love and serve life,
    in anticipation of living forever in You,
    in communion with the Blessed Trinity.

    Our strength in numbers combined with our steadfast belief will make 2013 the year we end abortion.

  5. God’s blessings and love that Aidan and his Mom shared this important message. I too, like many, are disappointed in our murderous society. We pray that as we stand steadfast against the evil ones who surround us that goodness will prevail, one soul at a time. Never give up the good fight–all for His glory!

  6. good cause says:

    God bless the family for choosing life.

    And to that hosptial doctor who suggested slow death? Sieg Heil! Himmler couldn’t have given the advice any better.

  7. When Obamacare goes into effect, do you think any doctor or hospital would allow a deformed newborn to live? We have been told that medical care will be rationed. Many life-saving procedures and medications will be withheld from the handicapped and elderly. Thank you Barack Hussein Obama and all the people who voted for him.

  8. Abeca Christian says:

    “No one will have their best interest at heart but the parents; God has given you the opportunity and responsibility to be their advocate. ”

    That is very true! Most parents are good parents and try to do their best, for a doctor to advice such a evil death sentence on a child is not a good moral doctor. Stay away from such doctor. In my opinion he/she should be stripped away with his/her title!

  9. Mbûkû Kanyau Mbithûka says:

    Evil Doctor.

  10. Mark from PA says:

    That doctor should have been reported. As this article states, cleft lip and palates is a fairly common birth defect and is corrected with surgeries. There are organizations that aid children in third world countries with this problem by bringing them to the United States for surgery and making sure that they get proper treatment. I hope that this doctor has since been educated about this matter. His actions were appalling and hard to believe or understand.

  11. Several caregivers I know have worked on hospice cases where they were ordered to not feed or give liquids to patients unless they ask for it. Oh, and if you’re thinking this could never happen in a Catholic hospital, nursing home, etc, well, think again, it happens. A stroke victim or someone with Dementia may be able to swallow food and liquids but they may not be able to ask for it.

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