- BANGOR, Me. (AP) -- A mother who feared powerful AIDS drugs would kill
her HIV-infected four-year-old son rather than extend his life won the
right Monday to refuse treatment for the boy.
- A state judge refused to give custody
of Nikolas Emerson to the state Department of Human Services, which had
argued his mother was jeopardizing his health.
- Valerie Emerson had said that she saw
her three-year-old daughter go through an agonizing death while on the
drug AZT, and she did not want Nikolas to suffer the same way.
- "Valerie gets to keep custody, she
gets to make all the decisions regarding his medical treatment," said
Kim Sheridan, her sister.
- Emerson had no immediate comment.
- Emerson, 27, is infected with the AIDS
virus herself and has stopped taking medication as well. She passed the
virus on to Nikolas at birth. She has two other children who do not have
- Her only daughter, Tia, died of AIDS-related
pneumonia in 1996 just before her fourth birthday.
- Emerson's lawyer, Hilary Billings, said
Judge Douglas Clapp found that there was insufficient evidence that the
boy's health was in jeopardy from being denied medical treatment.
- Clapp also found that the evidence suggested
the combination of drugs was still experimental and carried the risk of
side effects while not guaranteeing to help, Billings said.
- State officials said they had not seen
the ruling and had no immediate comment.
- The AIDS cocktail has improved the health
of many AIDS patients by suppressing the virus. During Thursday's hearing,
however, two scientists testified that AZT and other powerful drugs will
overwhelm Nikolas's immune system and kill him faster than if he were left