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A man was found brain-dead, but neither parent could legally make an end-of-life decision

Posted: 6:38 PM, Nov 05, 2019
Updated: 2019-11-05 18:38:16-05
An agonizing end-of-life dispute for two parents' adult son

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Friday at Erie County Medical Center 21-year-old Damaire Gordon’s heart stopped beating.
But he died nearly two weeks before, at least according to doctors.

In late October, Gordon was supposedly brought to ECMC overnight by a “Good Samaritan”.

His father was told that person found Gordon on the side of the road in a blanket and dropped him off at the hospital.

He was brain dead.

He had no gunshot wounds.
No stab wounds
No blunt-force trauma.

“I thought I would be seeing my son hurt some type of way that was very bad,” said Gordon’s father Mister Sommerville. “But, when I got there I saw my son had no trauma…and they can’t explain to me why he’s lifeless.”

Sommerville was notified by his son’s mother Regina Gordon-Sayles that their son was brain-dead at the hospital.

She says she is a single mother of 5 and claims Sommerville has been largely uninvolved in their son’s life.

But, he became very involved when it came time to make a decision about his passing.

Gordon-Sayles was ready to take her son off the respirator, while his father refused to consent.

“I was so confused about why I needed another consent,” said Gordon-Sayles.

The problem is — neither parent could give consent, legally, to take their son off life support.

Neither had been named his health care proxy.

Under Article 81 of the New York State Mental Hygiene Law, in this instance the case would go to a judge who would begin the process to appoint the best part to handle end-of-life decisions.

“Unfortunately, these cases are more common than we wish they were,” said Jean Harris, a partner at the elder law firm Pfalzgraf, Beinhaur, & Menzies.
“Unfortunately, these cases are more common than we wish they were,” said Jean Harris, a partner at the elder law firm Pfalzgraf, Beinhaur, & Menzies.
“The issue with these cases is not just the fact that they are common, but they’re very painful for the family. They’re traumatic for the family.”

Harris said that it’s a matter of liability for the hospital — every person has the right to due process when it comes to making decisions for themselves, even in death. If that person cannot make a decision for his or herself, a judge must come in and appoint an appropriate party.

Sommerville and Gordon-Sayles met with reporter Madison Carter on the same porch last week to state their separate stances on what they felt should happen next with their son.

Sommerville was not content with the care his son was receiving at ECMC and wanted more of an investigation to how he ended up in a brain-dead state when doctors said there was only marijuana found in his system.
Sommerville was not content with the care his son was receiving at ECMC and wanted more of an investigation to how he ended up in a brain-dead state when doctors said there was only marijuana found in his system.
Doctors told both parents that they were limited in what kind of drugs they could screen for without an autopsy.

A representative from ECMC says that circumstances like this are rare and unusual but when this happens staff works with all parties involved to come to a conclusion.

Last Thursday, this case went before a judge to appoint a proxy. A source tells 7 Eyewitness news that judge decided to continue his investigation into the case and not take any action for at least a week.

Damaire’s heart stopped beating the next day.

Gordon-Sayles said a friend of his told her the truth about what happened to him, days later.
Gordon-Sayles said a friend of his told her the truth about what happened to him, days later.
“He got ahold of some fentanyl, and I don’t know if my baby was laced…I don’t know if he took it himself, but it had something to do with fentanyl.”

She said it’s what happened next that has her seeking justice for her son.

“I was told when it happened, my son went into attack mode, he dropped, and they put him on the porch because they didn’t want to be charged with it.”

Buffalo Police say its homicide unit is conducting interviews.

Now the family needs help with Gordon’s funeral expenses .

A go-fund-me has been created for donations .

Gordon’s funeral is set to take place Friday at Miracle Missions Full Gospel Church.