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Family fights to keep teen on life support at Beaumont

Mark Hicks
The Detroit News

A judge has ordered Beaumont Health to keep a Lathrup Village teen on life support as his family works to see signs of improvement and seek treatment elsewhere.

Titus Cromer has been at the hospital since Oct. 17

Oakland County Circuit Judge Hala Jarbou on Monday granted a temporary restraining order sought by relatives of Titus Cromer Jr., who has been hospitalized at Beaumont Royal Oak hospital since Oct. 17 following an injury and is in a coma, their attorney said.

The 16-year-old’s parents “expressed a desire to maintain life-sustaining medical treatment to the greatest extent possible,” even without chances of recovery, according to the complaint initially filed last week. 

But hospital officials believe he has sustained “irreversible cessation of all functions of the brain”— the requirement under Michigan law for an individual to be considered brain dead — and have said they plan to remove him from life support, refusing his parents’ request, the filing stated.

Cromer’s family rejects that stance, said their lawyer, Jim Rasor.

“There are strong indicia that he is getting better everyday,” Rasor told The Detroit News. “He is currently able to breathe for short periods on his own. ...That’s a dramatic improvement from when he came into the hospital.”

Cromer’s family hopes to transfer the University of Detroit Jesuit High School student to a longterm care facility and seek another medical opinion. 

“It’s critically important to keep him on life support for a period of time in order to ascertain what improvements he’ll make,” Rasor said. “It would be a travesty to Titus to cut off his chance to have a recovery.” 

Beaumont said it will abide by the order that was entered by the court on Monday. 

"We empathize deeply with families in these kinds of very difficult circumstances, but privacy laws prevent us from discussing the particulars of a patient’s care without the family’s explicit permission," Mark Geary, a Beaumont spokesman, said in a statement. "We are committed to supporting the family in a compassionate, ethical and legally appropriate way."

The decision Monday means on Nov. 7, the court will hear evidence concerning Cromer's medical condition and arguments about whether a health care provider can withdraw treatment, Rasor said.

“Michigan law solidly gives the family the only decision-making authority for the removal of life support from patients that are injured,” he said. “There is nothing in Michigan law that gives the health care provider that right, nor should there be.”

Titus Cromer

Rasor noted the situation mirrors another high-profile case involving life-support for a teenager.

This month, University of Michigan doctors disconnected 14-year-old Bobby Reyes’ life support against the wishes of his parents, four hours after a Washtenaw County Circuit Court judge dismissed their request for an emergency injunction to keep him alive. 

The decision paved the way for the UM hospital to reconfirm its doctors' finding that Bobby was brain dead.

Cromer’s mother, LaShauna Lowry, has “had emotional and productive conversations” with Reyes’ family as she watches over her son, a popular varsity wrestler, Rasor said.

Lowry and her family are devout Christians and rely on their faith to face Cromer’s ordeal, the attorney added. “This is a wonderful, amazingly talented 16-year-old and this family wants to make sure that he has every opportunity possible to recover. And no one can say that’s a wrong decision on their part.”