A boy whose family went to court last month to challenge Children's Hospital of Philadelphia over its efforts to take him off life support — an action stayed by a court order — died Saturday, an attorney for Jayden Auyeung's family said.
"We do not know the exact cause of death as of yet. It is too early to tell," Christopher Bagnato wrote in a statement Saturday. "But we do know that Jayden's life support was not removed from him. The court's stay preventing removal was still in place. God bless him and his family during this very difficult time."
Jayden's parents, Anna and Jonathan Auyeung of Edison, N.J., filed for a temporary restraining order in Philadelphia Common Pleas Court on May 16, their son's 10th birthday. The boy, who suffered from a genetic motor neuron disease, couldn't breathe after a mucus plug developed in his throat while he was at home on May 4, his mother said. Despite efforts to revive him, he had to be taken to Robert Wood Johnson Hospital in New Brunswick, N.J., where he was placed on life support. Two days later, he was transferred to CHOP, where he had been treated for years.
Another family whose child is a patient at CHOP has also gone to court to keep their son alive.
Areen Chakrabarti, 14, has been on life support since arriving at CHOP on April 14. He suffered smoke inhalation and severe brain injury during a fire in the family's Bordentown home. The hospital sought to remove the boy from a ventilator and other life-sustaining treatment against his mother's wishes.
In April, a judge ruled that CHOP must keep Areen on life support, pending additional hearings or at least until he can be transferred to another hospital.
The case is pending.
In Pennsylvania and most states, a diagnosis of brain death is enough to declare someone legally dead, meaning he or she can be taken off life support. New Jersey lawmakers years ago enacted a religious exemption: If the family's faith dictates that a patient is alive so long as the cardiovascular system is functioning, then a physician cannot declare the person dead based on brain death alone.
Staff writer Tom Avril contributed to this article.