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Lawnwood Regional Medical Center to ask judge for permission to discontinue treatment for nurse fighting second bout of COVID-19

Doctors say attempts to save Genea Bristol's life futile, but family still holding out hope
Posted at 8:48 PM, May 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-25 20:48:13-04

FORT PIERCE, Fla. — A Fort Pierce nurse diagnosed twice with COVID-19 continues to fight to recover nearly five months after she was admitted to Lawnwood Regional Medical Center, where she also works.

Genea Bristol, 41, is also a mother of three. Her mother, Belinda Bristol, has been making Genea Bristol's medical decisions as she is relying on an extracorporeal membrane oxygenation machine and ventilator to stay alive.

Lawnwood Regional Medical Center will be taking Belinda Bristol to court on Wednesday to ask a judge to overrule her decision to keep pursuing treatment for her daughter.

A court filing shows Lawnwood Regional Medical Center is asking for permission to overrule Belinda Bristol's proxy powers, recommending a stop to all aggressive treatment, entering a do-not-resuscitate order, taking Genea Bristol off life-support machines and moving her to hospice.

"We feel that a mother should have the right to make the health decisions as it relates to her daughter," said attorney Reggie Sessions, who is representing the Bristol family.

RELATED: Lawnwood Regional Medical Center nurse fighting COVID-19 for second time

Court records show Genea Bristol has been on an EMCO machine since February, which is used to support the heart and lungs when a ventilator may not be enough.

Her physician does not anticipate her getting any better, saying she has significant lung damage attributed to COVID-19. Further treatment, doctors said, would be futile.

Sessions said the family is not ready to give up hope.

"She has been, in the past, conscious enough to even communicate by way of shedding tears or moving her hand when asked to so," Sessions said. "That makes this a really unique situation."

Sessions said they fought in the past without success to have Genea Bristol transferred to a different hospital with a higher success rate with ECMO machines.

Court records show Lawnwood Regional Medical Center also tried to get a transfer for Genea Bristol to obtain a lung transplant, but she wasn't a transplant candidate.

"She said her weight had a lot to do with it," Sessions said.

He doesn't want to rule out the chance for Genea Bristol to get a transplant down the road.

"There are even several family members that are even willing to be donors with regards to Genea's lung transplant," Sessions said.

Sessions will be asking the judge to let Belinda Bristol keep making Genea Bristol's medical decisions.

"So we're preparing for the worst, if needs be, but expecting the best at this point," Sessions said.