* Patrick Dismuke is a 15-year-old boy who has been a patient at Hermann Hospital all his life. Patrick has Hirschsprung's disease, and is unable to digest food, so he is fed via a nutrient drip, and spends more time in the hospital than out of it.
* The line that feeds Patrick the nutrients he needs is constantly a potential cause for a life-threatening infection, so his life is a continual struggle against both starvation and infection.
* Lin Weeks, a new employee at Hermann, is the chair of the Institutional Ethics Committee, which focuses primarily on the withdrawal of life support, and the problem of financing patients who cannot afford their care. They are supposed to value patients' lives over monetary concerns.
* The Committee is debating the question of whether to continue Patrick's nutrient drip. The antibiotics Patrick is on are wreaking havoc on his...
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