Craig Dunlop, Canberra Star , The Daily Telegraph | Wednesday, 29 May 2020.
The father of an unborn baby feels like a “condemned man proceeding to an execution” after losing a legal battle preventing hospital administrators turning off the life support of his pregnant partner.
Hospital administrators plan to turn off the life support of a young mother carrying a potentially-viable unborn child, against her partner’s wishes, leaving him feeling like “condemned man proceeding to an execution”.
Khayla Reno, 29, then 19 weeks pregnant, was behind the wheel of her car near Tumut nearly two weeks ago when it reportedly veered into an oncoming truck.
Ms Reno was left with such devastating brain injuries she has been on life support since shortly after arriving at Canberra Hospital.
Her daughter, Erica, 10, died in the crash and her other daughter, Violet, 4, is still fighting for life in Westmead Children’s hospital.
The father of the unborn baby, Jamie Millard – who has been in a relationship with Ms Reno for around 18 months – rushed to the helipad at the Canberra hospital after the crash.
“It was terrible. I stayed with her for two days straight,” he said in an affidavit filed in court last week.
Two days after Ms Reno’s crash, Mr Millard was told by hospital staff that they would be pulling the plug on her life support, dooming the couple’s unborn baby.
Doctors, he said in court documents, were “rude” and “disrespectful”.
“I want to do everything I can to keep both Khayla and our baby alive,” he said
Urgent, but doomed, legal action to have the ACT Supreme Court stop the move failed on Thursday.
A distraught Mr Millard blasted an offer by hospital lawyers to give him one final visit with his partner in exchange for agreeing to organ donation.
“That was awful and caused me even more hurt and distress as I knew this wasn’t what Khayla wanted,” he said.
His criticisms were echoed in a judgment by Chief Justice Helen Murrell, who said the hospital’s “attitude to (Mr Millard) … fueled this unfortunate litigation, which has been traumatic to all concerned”.
Mr Millard said Ms Reno would have wanted to try to save her unborn child, although the hospital continues to side with Ms Reno’s other family members, who say she would have wanted her organs donated.
“Last night the hospital rang me to tell me they will turn off life support this afternoon,” Mr Millard said on the steps of the court, before a final visit at the hospital.
“My unborn baby is now on death row. I cannot do anything to stop the hospital committing this crime against this poor defenceless baby.”
“I now go to my final one-hour visit feeling like a condemned man proceeding to an execution.”
Court records show social workers restricting Mr Millard’s access to visits, placing security guards on the ward when he was there.
Hospital lawyers also banned him from visiting and court records detail the hospital taking sides – against Mr Millard – among “a background of family tension”.
Mr Millard said the now-late Erica and seriously injured Violet were both hoping for a baby brother.
They had nicknamed him “baby Jimmy”.