Mom Fights School Over Her Son's Right to Die There

He's terminally ill, and she doesn't want him revived
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 3, 2015 6:45 PM CST
Mom Fights School Over Her Son's Right to Die There
Alex Hoover poses for a photo with his mother, Rene. Alex has a terminal heart condition and has not returned to school because of what his mother says is a dispute over how he might die.   (Rene Hoover via AP)

A mother is locked in a battle with an Alabama school district over whether her son should be allowed to die at school. Rene Hoover's 14-year-old son, Alex, has a terminal heart condition that has narrowed his mitral valve. The AP reports that has hampered his blood flow, a situation exacerbated by his growth. Alex was hospitalized multiple times over the summer, and WHNT reported last month that the family's doctors feel the best choice for Alex from a quality-of-life perspective would be to let him die naturally. The teen has hospice care twice a week, according to, and his family obtained a legal advance directive stating Alex is not to be revived if he goes into cardiac arrest. There's only one problem: East Limestone High School refuses to honor the advance directive and has said it will do everything it can to save the teen if something happens while he's at school.

Alex hasn't gone back to school since his hospitalizations, though he is physically up for attending class four hours a week. WAFF reports Hoover isn't permitted to stay with Alex while he's at school (which would allow her to make medical choices for him) due to policies regarding how much time parents can spend on campus. "His entire life would be medications, surgeries," she says of resuscitating him. "This is about doing the right thing for him and letting him enjoy what time he has left." One bioethics expert isn't so sure, telling the AP he isn't convinced Alex, who has autism, had the capacity to issue the advance directive. There are also concerns that his death could traumatize other students. The state's education department doesn't have a policy on advance directives. Hoover is currently working with a state legislator to change that. In the meantime, Alex remains at home. (This school is involved in a controversy over prayer.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.