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Family's Euthanasia Fight For Natty

CORPUS CHRISTI (CBSDFW.COM) - It all started with a scream.  Bradley Newton recalls the September morning when he was awakened by an agonized wail -- 19 month old Natalie had fallen into the family's backyard pool.  "I had no idea, no idea what my family was about to endure," says Newton. Natty -- as the family called her-- was eventually revived. But, their busy, happy girl, was already gone.

"It was just horrible.  Blind and deaf and can't move... can you imagine?"  Newton, Natalie's grandfather, wipes away tears as he talks about the heartbreaking decision that would soon follow.  After more than an hour without oxygen, doctors at a hospital near the family's Corpus Christi home determined that Natalie would ultimately not survive.

"You think that dreadful thought:  we can't let her live like this, and you can't believe you just thought that."

With no hope of recovery, the hospital's ethics committee agreed.  "It's crazy because... what you are relieved for, is the most horrible thing in the world," says Newton.

You see, the question then became, how exactly would Natty die?

"They're saying, 'ok, well, the nutrition and the hydration'... and I ask them, 'well, isn't that starving her to death?'"

In a word:  yes. 'Withholding nutrition' as it is nicely put-- is the only end of life option that Texas Law allows.

"It's asinine," says local attorney Jerry Loftin. "The state of Texas will spend more to keep someone in a vegetative state than they did when the person was alive."

Newton says it was torture.  "We stopped the feeding," and after a pause that punctuates the family's heartbreak, "and, ah, starved her to death."  Over 8 1/2 long, awful, agonizing days.  Through tears, Newton explains that the trauma filled process has led him to fight to have laws changed.

"That's just the most cruel, inhumane thing," says Newton. "We euthanize dogs for humanity reasons.  We euthanize serial killers, because that's more humane.  But, a 21-month old baby has to starve for almost 9 days in front of her family?"  Newton says he is collecting signatures and creating a foundation to raise public awareness about the issue-- and to put pressure on lawmakers to make changes.

"I want the laws changed so you have an option to go peacefully if you want, for the dignity of yourself and your family.  It takes their dignity and their soul, too.  It's outright criminal."

The family stared the Natty Foundation to raise awareness about this issue.  Click here for more information.

(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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