Family: Boy on life support after Route 80 crash dies

Submitted by New Jersey Motor Vehicle Accident Lawyer, Jeffrey Hark
Michael LaVecchia

A 13-year-old boy who suffered devastating head injuries in a car accident died on Thursday, his mother said, ending his family’s monthlong quest for more testing and medical opinions about whether he had truly suffered a “brain death.”

Michael “Mikey” LaVecchia died at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick, where he was transferred three days after the Aug. 15 accident on Route 80 in Wayne that killed his father and another boy.

Mikey was originally brought to St. Joseph’s Regional Medical Center in Paterson, where — 24 hours after the accident — doctors had declared him to be brain dead.

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His mother, Laureen LaVecchia, initially consented to donate his organs, but then clashed with doctors there after becoming dissatisfied with the explanations they gave for a series of movements family members saw the boy make, including lifting his arms, head and shoulders off the bed.

LaVecchia, a Long Island resident, grew concerned that the diagnosis had been rushed. “One day’s worth of waiting to see if anything’s possible is not nearly enough,” she said.

Experts say such involuntary movements can occur after someone is determined to be brain dead, causing families much confusion and anguish, and are usually attributable to spinal reflexes or chemical changes in the body.

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Since his transfer to Robert Wood Johnson, Mikey underwent a magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI, test and his mother sought advice from outside-the-mainstream groups such as the International Brain Research Foundation, which advocates for the use of more sophisticated image testing of the brain.

Citing patient privacy laws, officials at Robert Wood Johnson have refused to discuss any treatment he received there. The hospital’s policy is also not to release any details about a patient’s death, spokeswoman Zenaida Mendez said Thursday.

Officials at St. Joseph’s have also refused to discuss the specifics of his case, citing those same privacy laws.

“St. Joseph’s Healthcare System extends its prayers and condolences to the LaVecchia family during their time of grief,” hospital spokeswoman Elizabeth Asani said in an emailed statement Thursday.

Originally published here by northjersey.com.

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