Who Should Survive
Dr. Bartholome: Well... that's it. I'll go call the parents.
Dr. Bartholome: He looked very much like a child that you would've found abandoned somewhere and left to die in a garbage can. I can remember the parents and the decision and my agony, and I knew that I was partly responsible.
Nurses: Good push. That's terrific. Let's have another one.
Patient: Aah, aah. Aah, aah.
Nurses: Now you relax for a minute while we listen to the baby' heart. Good push too. Good girl, keep at it.
Patient: When? Help. It hurts.
Nurse: Okay. Good girl. Here it comes.
Patient: Aah, aah.
Nurse: Okay. Now we'll get the shoulder. Good. (Baby cries) Okay, baby. Come on, let's fuss a little. (Baby cries) Look here, it's a boy. (Baby cries)
(Baby crying and background talking)
Nurse: Dr. Bartholome, is the mother awake?
Dr. Bartholome: No, she's out
Nurse: This baby looks a little mongoloid to me. (Baby cries)
Dr. Bartholome: The diagnosis of mongolism can be made with a fair degree of certainty in the nursery. In addition to the mongolism, the patient had this disorder called duodenal atresia. There was no opening between the stomach and the lower intestine.
Dr. Haller: A child with duodenal atresia doesn't look to be any other...
Dr. Bartholome: Dr. Haller knows a good deal about mongolism and has operated on many mongols with problems.
...doing fine. He's well hydrated and we have an IV in and the NG tube is in...
Dr. Haller: So as far as you're concerned, we're all set to go in the morning.
Dr. Bartholome: Right.
Dr. Haller: There's some possibility that they are not going to want an operative procedure on that baby. She's a nurse and apparently has taken care of some children who were mongols in the past and has some real serious reservations but...
Dr. Bartholome: The presence of a lesion that was incompatible with life allowed them to make the decision about whether they not only wanted their mongol child but whether they wanted their mongol child to live or die. (Babies crying) The child's life, if you look at a mongol's life, was not one of pain or suffering or misery or that he would never learn or that he would never know himself or that he would never be an individual. His life, although certainly not normal, would be a life, and he would be a living human being.
Dr. Haller: ...making an opening so that the contents can go through all right. So, as you can see, it's a relatively simple operation but it's in a fairly small baby and for that reason...
Dr. Bartholome: Dr. Haller wanted to operate on this patient. He did tell the parents, however, that it would be their decision.
Dr. Haller: ...but the operation will have no effect whatsoever on his underlying mongolism because this is a condition which is separate from, although it may be related to the abnormality in his intestine, the mongolism condition is not going to be changed by fixing his intestinal obstruction.
Dr. Bartholome: From the parents' standpoint, they were looking forward to having this bouncing, happy, healthy baby, and then some physician tells them that their child is a mongol. Why burden ourselves, why burden society, why burden everybody with this defective child? Why not simply let God's will be done?
Dr. Bartholome: The parents don't want any operative procedures to be done on the baby. And Dr. Haller has decided to respect their opinion and their belief about what they want done for the child. So we're going to stop any artificial means of prolonging the baby's life.
It was a long and agonizing wait. I actually tried very hard to avoid going in and seeing the baby. And if I did look at him, I tried excruciatingly hard not to touch him because it was very difficult for me to handle him even to examine him. I was very concerned about what this was going to do to the nurses. Their initial reaction was one of just kind of horror and disbelief that we were going to do this. We were going to take a baby, who was a completely healthy baby compared to a lot of the patients they were taking care of on the floor, who was now going to go into a bassinette in some dark corner and starve to death.
This is Dr. Bartholome...
I talked to the father several times. He would call and say "How are things?", meaning is the kid still alive?
...by deteriorating I mean...
I felt uncomfortable talking to him and I felt a little funny saying, "Well, things are working out. They're just taking a little slower". It took 15 days for the baby to become severely enough dehydrated that he finally died. That was an awful long time.
Disclaimer: "Who Should Survive" was produced in 1971. The language used in this film to refer to and describe Baby Doe was acceptable 40 to 50 years ago. We recognize that is no longer the case and that such language is now disrespectful and offensive. We urge the use of "people first" language and more respectful words to describe people with disabilities in all instances, in both spoken and written language. This film, however, is historical, and the language and terminology used throughout the film has been left intact to retain the historical context in which it was produced.