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CNN LARRY KING LIVE

Encore Presentation: Interview With Jason, Justin Torres

Aired July 9, 2005 - 21:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, the fight to keep this woman alive long enough to save her tiny unborn baby. Susan Torres has no brain function. Her body is wracked with cancer. It's an anguished race against time with medical science and loving faith. Will she be able to beat the clock? Her husband Jason Torres joins us from Washington to share a powerful story. It's next on LARRY KING LIVE.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KING: We have an incredible hour ahead. Jason Torres is the husband of Susan Torres. He is in Washington.

Here in New York is Justin Torres, Jason's Torres' older brother. And Paul Chaim Schenck, the pastoral minister of the Gospel of Life ministries. He's executive director of the National Pro Life Action Center. And he's helping with fund-raising for the Torres medical bills.

This is not really a pro life situation. But before we talk with Jason and then meet our panel, we want to get Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN senior medical correspondent, a practicing neurosurgeon, to join us from Atlanta and get us up to date on the medical situation. What is Susan's situation?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, what has happened to Susan is that she essentially had a malignant brain tumor. It was a melanoma that spread to her brain. It bled and caused her to go into a brain-dead state. And what that means basically, is that she doesn't have any brain functions. She's not able to talk, certainly. But she's also not able to breathe on her own, may have difficulty regulating her blood pressure.

Add on to the fact that she was also pregnant at the time. And now what is happening medically, is that while she is being kept alive in an intensive care unit on a ventilator, she's also being allowed to let her pregnancy progress.

It's sort of a delicate balance here, Larry, between giving her medications, keeping her on a ventilator, fighting off infections, all of that going on at the same time while she's pregnant, trying to allow this fetus develop inside of her to develop normally. Also, the cancer as well, something that could potentially spread into the womb, Larry.

KING: This is not a vegetative state, right?

GUPTA: This is not a vegetative state. It's different, because in brain death, she has no brain function whatsoever. If she was disconnected from the ventilator, she wouldn't survive, Larry.

KING: She's had a bout of pneumonia. What's been that effect?

GUPTA: Well, that's significant. I mean, anytime you have an infection that is what is most likely to advance her course in the ICU, make it more likely for her to not survive something like this. Also, again some risk to the fetus.

KING: So Paul, this is not a right-to-life case, is it? You understand that she is going to die?

PAUL CHAIM SCHENCK, NATIONAL PRO-LIFE ACTION CENTER: Well, it is about life. It's about the power of life, the life between these two people who love one another and the fruit of that life, which is this unborn baby. So in that respect, this is about life. But when you talk about a controversy, I don't know anyone who would have a controversy with this.

KING: Naturally.

All right. Dr. Gupta will come back with us. Let's check in now -- and Dr. Gupta will join us later. We will be including your phone calls. We'll start with Jason Torres. What happened to Susan, Jason?

JASON TORRES, HUSBAND OF SUSAN TORRES: Well, we were at home. And she wasn't feeling well. And she hadn't been feeling well for a couple of days. But it didn't seem to be anything this serious. And she was up in bed. And I had made her something to eat for dinner.

KING: She was pregnant?

JASON TORRES: Yes.

KING: First child?

JASON TORRES: No, second. We have a son, Peter, who is 2. And we were talking. And after our conversation, she just, she stopped. And stopped breathing. And I did CPR and called 911. And we went to the hospital and we've been there ever since.

KING: This was how long ago?

JASON TORRES: This is about seven-and-a-half weeks ago now.

KING: Had she had any prior illness, any indication that this was coming?

JASON TORRES: Well, she had melanoma when she was younger, when she was a teenager. And it was just one freckle on her right arm. And it was removed. And she was pronounced free and clear. And she had been going to yearly checkups and things like that, but there was no indication this time around that that's what was happening. KING: What is the age of the fetus?

JASON TORRES: Right now, we're at, I guess the baby measures about 22 weeks in a few days.

KING: When do they tell you they can safely remove the baby?

JASON TORRES: Well, the minimum that you want to get to is 24 weeks. But if you can go longer than that, then you'd like to go week by week. And the maximum that they would go to is 32.

KING: Might she die before that?

JASON TORRES: Yes. There's a possibility. We -- I don't think that we -- the doctors really thought that she'd make it outside of a week or ten days at the very beginning. I mean, not only do you have the complication of the damage to the brain, but you also have melanoma, which is an aggressive cancer that could end all of this very quickly.

KING: So you are faced with an incredible decision here, right? She is brain dead. You accept the fact that your wife will pass away?

JASON TORRES: I don't want to. But, I mean, yes, you have to -- you have to, you have to look at that fact.

KING: Face facts.

Now, is there a moral question to you about the question that the baby might get cancer? Did you ever say to yourself, maybe we should let them both go?

JASON TORRES: Well, there is, you know, at the very beginning, there is always a moment of hesitation, because you know how hard it is going to be. You know, when we came into the hospital, we were looking at a minimum of ten weeks. But I know that Susan would want us to do as much as we could for her child. And so it is absolutely a moral and ethical question. But I think if you have the chance to save the life of your child, you take it.

KING: Justin, you're Jason's older brother, right?

JUSTIN TORRES, BROTHER OF JASON TORRES: Um-hmm.

KING: What are your feelings?

JUSTIN TORRES: I mean, for us, we knew what Susan would have said if she'd been there to give us her two cents.

KING: Save the baby?

JUSTIN TORRES: She would have said save the baby. That you have to try. And she also, I mean, we've from the beginning, we've always joked that the toughest person in that ICU room is Susan. And, you know, I think it's a testament to her that we've made it as far as we've made it. But, you know, this is a family that's very united around this decision and united around my brother.

KING: Are there other family members -- are your parents living?

JUSTIN TORRES: My parents are living. And Jason and I actually come from a family of seven kids.

KING: All in agreement?

JUSTIN TORRES: Um-hmm.

KING: Are Susan's parents living?

JUSTIN TORRES: Um-hmm, yes.

KING: What do they think?

JUSTIN TORRES: They said absolutely. You have to try. They've been in Washington there -- they're originally from Houston. They've been in Washington since the beginning of this and by her side. You know, this is a very unified family.

KING: Jason, what do they tell you about the fear that the child may have cancer?

JASON TORRES: Well, the fear would be that the cancer goes to the placenta. And then, of course, that would cause a lot of complications. The child getting cancer, I guess there's some disagreement about whether that would happen or not, or if it's a big problem. But because the child's immune system is totally separate from the mother's. So any cancer cells that would go to the child, the child's immune system would most probably fight those cancer cells. But at the same time, nobody -- the problem is no one really knows.

KING: Let me get a break and come back. We'll include calls later. We'll be back with Jason, Justin and Paul. We'll get Paul's input. Dr. Gupta will rejoin us later. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Justin tells us that the 2-year-old boy, what's his name?

JUSTIN TORRES: Peter.

KING: Peter is doing fine. He's quite an athlete, built like his father. And that Susan was a vaccine researcher at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland.

Jason, before we talk to Paul, the decision to keep her on life support, was that hard?

JASON TORRES: Yes. You're told, well, we can do -- we can try and do this. It's probably not going to work, and it's going to take a long time and be very painful. And what do you say to that, when the doctors give you that? But you have to, you know -- when I was discussing what to do with all of the doctors, one of the nurses pulled me aside and said, you don't have to figure out what it is that you want to do. You have to figure out what it is Susan would want you to do. And so from that point, it became an easy question.

KING: What do Susan's parents think?

JASON TORRES: Well, I talked to them, you know, after we'd been in the hospital for a few days, and just kind of waiting to see what would happen. And you know, we went through one of the conference rooms in the hospital and talked for a while. And they told me that they would be happy with any decision that I make, but that they'd like it if I'd try, so that maybe we could bring a little one home.

KING: Did she have any kind of living will?

JASON TORRES: No, she did not.

KING: Paul, is there a moral, ethical -- there's no dilemma here, is there? I mean, or is there?

SCHENCK: Well, there may be a question about, as Jason faced this terrible question about life support, because there is a biblical and traditional definition of life, and that is when the soul is united to the body. But then, of course, the church relies on science to determine when the body is dead and...

KING: Brain dead is generally considered dead, right?

SCHENCK: Well, yes. But, of course, there's going to be differences of opinion even on a diagnosis. So even there, it doesn't become necessarily cut and dry. And especially now, because you have a life within a life, which, of course, in Judeo-Christian tradition, has to be protected. There has to be made an effort to preserve and protect innocent life.

KING: So they are doing the right thing?

SCHENCK: They're doing the right thing, and I think what this becomes is a great illustration of nuptial love, the definition of which is self-giving. It's a giving over of self. And that is being done preeminently by Susan, by Jason in the decision that he's made, and this child will and is evidence of that degree of love.

KING: Are you counsel to the family?

SCHENCK: Well, we're providing some support as far as our ministry is concerned.

KING: Are they in your ministry? Do you know the family?

SCHENCK: No, we've only come to know them. We've only come to know them when we were contacted by members of their parish church, who wanted to do something by way of establishing a fund. And Faith in Action, which is led by my brother, Reverend Rob Schenck, became involved and established the fund, and what we're doing now is attempting to raise the moneys -- and there's been a tremendous outpouring of support for the family -- to offset the expenses that insurance won't cover.

KING: Jason, how costly is this?

JASON TORRES: It's very costly. It -- I think it's running around $9,000 a day, to keep her on life support.

KING: What will insurance cover?

JASON TORRES: Insurance will cover -- I'm not really sure.

SCHENCK: What we understand, Larry, is that insurance will cover about $7,000 a day. So we're talking about $2,000 or more a day in additional expenses. And there are always other expenses when a family goes through a crisis and a tragedy like this. It increases the burden on everybody.

KING: Like, Justin, what else?

JUSTIN TORRES: Well, I mean, it's, you know, my brother has quit his job, and a number of us have taken time off of work, obviously. And there's a lot of late nights at the hospital, a lot of early mornings at the hospital. And it's, you know, the amazing little things. I mean, it's impossible to cook in this situation, so you order out. And it costs, you know, a ton of money.

KING: Yeah, that's right. What does the OB-GYN, Jason, say about the condition of the fetus?

JASON TORRES: That seems to be, so far, that seems to be our miracle. That the child is -- the child is growing and the child's progressing as it should. And we just had a sonogram, and everything seemed normal. And they say that they're 99 percent sure it's a girl.

KING: I can tell that, because you usually know when it's a boy.

We'll be right back with more. Jason will be leaving us at the bottom of the hour. Dr. Gupta will return, and we'll be taking your phone calls. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're back.

Paul, I understand there is a fund-raising effort.

SCHENCK: There is: SusanTorresFund.org is where...

KING: Is that one word? SusanTorres...

SCHENCK: SusanTores, T-O-R-R-E-S, fund.org and contributions can be made there by check, by Paypal and so, it can be done right online. And 100 percent of every single dollar that comes in goes directly to these expenses. There are no administrative costs, no fund-raising costs.

Even the site is being hosted as a contribution and the entire fund will be audited and a report will be given. So, everyone who is making a contribution can be absolutely certain that, that fund will go directly to Susan's care and to the care of the family.

KING: You set this up?

SCHENCK: We did, under Faith and Action, which is...

KING: What is that?

SCHENCK: That's a Christian ministry in Washington, D.C. and it is a 501 C-3 tax-exempt organization, so it's IRS approved. So, every contribution that comes in is a tax-exempt contribution.

And the mission of Faith and Action, which National Pro-life Action Center is a project of, is to advocate for the sanctity of life, of marriage and the family, and of the acknowledgment of God.

And I think we have all of those in this story, both tragedy and triumph.

KING: This doesn't even enter into the choice debate. Every person of choice would agree with this...

SCHENCK: I can't imagine...

KING: There's no debate here.

SCHENCK: I can't imagine someone taking issue with the decision that's been made here.

KING: No.

KING: Jason, you quit your job?

JASON TORRES: Yes. Yes, I went in a few times and just sat there thinking to myself: What am I doing here. And so, I finally decided that I'm not much help to them and it's not much help to me, so I might as well just quit and let my family take care of me.

KING: Now, you -- how much time do you spend in the hospital?

JASON TORRES: Well, I stay there overnight and I, you know, have meetings with doctors and I talk to the nurses and I try and stay around if there's anything specific happening. And then, besides that, I go home and you know, play with Pete.

KING: Do you sit with your wife a lot?

JASON TORRES: Yes, every day. And you know, tell he her what's been going on and I guess, tonight, I'll go back and tell her that I was on the LARRY KING SHOW.

KING: Does Pete know anything? Little Pete? JASON TORRES: He knows -- he's only two. So, he doesn't, you know -- you can't bring him into the hospital room and explain things to him or anything like that, but of course, he knows that his mother's not at home.

KING: Jason, you told "USA Today" -- I don't know what's caught in my throat -- "I hate seeing her on these darn machines and I hate using her as a husk, a carrying case, because she's worth much more. But she wanted this baby. So, how should I put it? She's a very willful lady."

So, do you view her -- is she a carrying case?

JASON TORRES: Well, I don't think so. No. I mean, I go in and I see her every day and that's my wife, but it's hard to think that once the baby's born, you have to make the decision to turn off those machines. And you never -- of course, you never want to see one of your loved ones in the ICU.

KING: Paul, do you have problem with that, if they turn off the machine?

PAUL SCHENCK: No, Larry, because the church takes a position on an issue like this, that it is not required morally to use extraordinary means that have no hope of bringing about a different outcome and if it's excessively burdensome and will not change the circumstance and that the person can't respond, then it is not necessary to continue an artificial support of life, in that respect.

But to go back to this -- the power of life within Susan, you know, in Judeo-Christian tradition, there are different words that are used for different kinds of love: there's physical love, then there's love between friends, love between family and the highest form is agate love or God's love and that's been defined as: Seeking the best for the other at the expense of yourself.

And I think this is a marvelous example to all of us, both Jason in his love for his wife and child -- his children, and Susan's love for life and her commitment to carrying that child through, regardless of what happened to her, I think demonstrates that highest form of love, which, for us as Christians, was demonstrated to us in Christ, who gave his life up for our salvation.

KING: Justin, are you in accordance with all of this, as a family member?

JUSTIN TORRES: I am. And all of us are. I mean, this -- again, it was -- it's not an easy situation, obviously. But it was, in a sense, an easy decision to make. I mean, we would have done whatever Jason had decided and we would have supported him whatever he said, but I knew what he was going to say, because I knew Susan. And that, for us, I mean, we're -- the Torres family, we are not Theologians, but you know, I mean, we understand family and we understand kids and...

KING: You have children? JUSTIN TORRES: I do. I have three children of my own. And I mean, I would -- I would make the same decision, I'm sure.

KING: We'll take a break. Come back. We'll include your phone calls.

In a little while, Dr. Gupta will rejoin us.

Jason, if you're calling in, we hope you could ask questions for Justin and for Paul. Jason would rather not -- he's in a -- this is very difficult for him to even be here tonight. We appreciate him and we're going to hold him for another segment or so. I'll ask him some more questions, but we'll take questions for the rest of the panel and Dr. Gupta will rejoin us shortly.

Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're back. In Washington is Jason Torres, the husband of Susan Torres. In New York is Justin Torres, Jason Torres' older brother. Paul Chaim Schenck, the pastoral minister of the Gospel of Light Ministries, executive director of the National Pro-Life Action Center, helping with fund-raising for these medical bills. Again, if you want to help, it's susantorresfund -- it's all one word -- susantorresfund -- excuse me -- .org.

In Atlanta is Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Dr. Gupta is CNN's senior medical correspondent and a practicing neurosurgeon.

Let's take a call. We go to Union City, California. Hello.

CALLER: Hey, yes, my question is for Justin. Justin, I would like to know if you would be willing to share with the public the name you guys have picked out for the child, and, second of all, I'd like to tell you and Jason, I know you can hear me, thank you for keeping your wife alive. Do not give up. It is awesome. And I want to thank you, and God bless you.

JUSTIN TORRES: Thank you.

KING: Thank you. Do you know, have they picked a name if it's a girl?

JUSTIN TORRES: You know, when they had Peter, it literally went to the final hour to pick a name. The two of them fought like cats and dogs to come up with Peter. And I don't think they'd picked anything out yet. So I don't know the name. If Jason knows, he's not telling me.

KING: Jason, do you know?

JASON TORRES: Well, not necessarily. Susan liked Cecilia Ann, but we're still in negotiation about that.

KING: Cecilia Ann. You had a difficult fight and came up with Peter?

JASON TORRES: Well...

KING: What was it, John, Mark, Peter, Luke, what?

JASON TORRES: Basically. Basically. But she wanted something more exciting. And I liked Peter as a firstborn son. So we ended up with Peter Colby. So.

KING: Oh, I like that. Jason, how are you -- how are you dealing with all this? And again, Dr. Gupta will come in in the next segment, we'll take more calls. But how are you dealing with it emotionally? One, will your child -- will there be a child? Will the child be healthy? When do I turn off the machine? How are you -- my gosh!

JASON TORRES: Yeah. I don't know. You just kind of, you take it day by day and question by question and decision by decision, and lean on your family and just kind of do the best you can.

KING: Did they give you any indication at what day they would -- there's a possibility, of course, you could lose her before this, right?

JASON TORRES: Yes.

KING: Or will the machines keep her alive?

JASON TORRES: Well, so far, so far, we've been doing -- actually, we've been doing better than expected, better than we should. You know, at this point, she's regulating her own blood pressure. She's, you know, of course, she's on a ventilator, but there's very -- all things considered, very little that the doctors have to do to intervene. It's just more day-to-day care.

KING: And in what month do they plan to -- it will be cesarean, of course. But what month do they plan to bring the baby out?

JASON TORRES: Well, you -- for that 24-week period, you'd be talking somewhere between July 11th to July 18th. But if we get to that point and everything seems to be going well, then we'd keep on going, and -- up to 32 weeks. And I'm not quite sure what date that would be, but, you know, another 10 weeks from now, 11 weeks from now.

KING: July 11th is only a week from Monday. Right around the corner. How much money have you raised so far, Paul?

SCHENCK: About $200,000. That's not quite half of where we anticipate the excessive expenses to be. So we're well on the way, and the generosity has been extraordinary. We had a pledge just yesterday morning of $10,000 to the fund. So we're seeing a tremendous outpouring of support. We need to see a lot more.

KING: And that, the Web site again is susantorresfund -- that's all one word.

SCHENCK: All one word.

KING: Susan t-o-r-r-e-s -- susantorresfund.org, for any contribution you can make. It's totally tax deductible. And as you said, we'll repeat this, 100 percent goes...

SCHENCK: There are no administrative costs, no fund-raising costs, not even the Web site cost. So 100 percent, 100 cents out of every dollar goes to these expenses.

KING: We'll take a break. And when we come back, we'll take more calls. And I want to ask Dr. Gupta about, what about meningitis would cause something like this to happen, since I've heard about meningitis and I've heard people recover from meningitis.

And again, the prayers of all of us with Susan and Jason, and what they're going through.

You're watching LARRY KING LIVE. Mary Tyler Moore will be our special guest tomorrow night.

Dr. Gupta rejoins us. More calls ahead. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're back. We'll take another call. New York City, hello.

CALLER: Yes. Good evening. My question is, what will be done for the newborn baby if she has melanoma?

KING: Good question. Dr. Gupta?

GUPTA: One of the difficulties here is you can't treat the melanoma right now, because the chemotherapy would be too toxic to the developing fetus. Melanoma unfortunately doesn't respond very well to many things besides radiation, so it's going to be a bit of a tough spot.

The good news is that there have been a lot of studies on this, and only about 27 people that have actually had malignant melanoma crossed the placenta and go to the fetus, but only six times was the fetus actually affected. So a good chance that she actually probably won't be affected by the melanoma.

KING: Wow. That's great news. So your betting is, this will be, if they can bring it anywhere near maturity, a healthy child?

GUPTA: Yeah. I mean, if they get to that 25-week period, it's probably going to be a -- the data is more likely that the child is going to be healthy than not.

KING: Why would the meningitis cause this to happen to her?

GUPTA: Well, I think you're talking about the tumor -- what happened was you had melanoma actually spread to the brain. Now, this type of tumor actually is quite likely to bleed, so it actually bled at that point, Larry, and then it put some significant pressure on the brain, and that's what caused the brain death. So it's melanoma that probably, again, 17 years old, she had this in her arm. Probably it was just hanging out there, and then for whatever reason became reactivated, spread to the brain and bled.

KING: Jason, you should be very encouraged over that stat alone that you're going to have a healthy baby.

JASON TORRES: Yes. You know, way back when we started at 15 weeks, it seemed like a very, very long time. But it seems more and more, every day, with every passing day, that we're going to take home a baby.

KING: Are you looking to the probability of a single parent raising two children?

JASON TORRES: Well, it was hard enough with two of us taking care of Pete.

KING: Yeah, that's what I mean.

JASON TORRES: But, you know -- I've got a large family. And I'm sure they'll take care me of and, you know, you just do what you have to do.

KING: What do you think will happen from your belief system, Paul to Susan, after death?

SCHENCK: Well, the Judeo Christian tradition has a very, very wonderful teaching on life after death. In the Judeo Christian tradition life goes on after death and is experienced in three different ways. In heaven, with God. And that, Susan clearly believed in. And in memories on earth. And the family has many of those. And then in the children and the grandchildren.

You know, how many times have you experienced, or has someone said, you know, there's grandpa. Oh, look, he did that just like, or she did that just like grandma does. And so you see that person in the child.

So here's this beautiful story where life triumphs out of death. And there's a passage in the New Testament that says that it was for the joy that was set before him that Christ endured the cross and its suffering. So out of this suffering, the suffering and the anguish is bitter here, but the suffering can be redeemed by life coming forth out of death. And that's what this illustrates.

KING: Beautifully said. Jason, are you a believer?

JASON TORRES: Absolutely. Absolutely.

KING: Do you find, Dr. Gupta, and we've done a lot of research on this, that believers or people who pray do better?

GUPTA: You know that's a great question. And there's actually a lot of studies actually done on hope, just the concept of hope and healing. And there have been some studies that have shown that, in fact, hope actually might lead to some benefit in terms of healing.

There's actually even -- Larry, this is really interesting to me, some studies on sessory (ph) prayer, where people don't know that they're being prayed for and might also have some benefit just by virtue of the fact that they're prayed for. And certainly, that's not anything you can explain scientifically, just spiritually only, Larry. I find it fascinating.

KING: Justin, don't you?

JUSTIN TORRES: I do. I do.

KING: Being prayed for.

JUSTIN TORRES: Well, you know I -- for this family over the past couple weeks, knowing that there were people who were, you know, donating to this fund, but bringing over food and, most especially, praying for us, joining us in this, has been -- it's been unbelievable. I mean, it's been unbelievable. We've just never experienced anything like it.

SCHENCK: Last night, Larry, I battled through this incredible thunder and lightning storm to get over to Virginia Hospital Center. And I missed the family. I missed -- I got there late because of the storm.

But I got in through this swelling storm. And I went in to the chapel. And I sat and I prayed for Susan, for the baby, for Jason, for the family. And there was such a powerful connection there, such a wonderful moment of calm and peace, and a sense that this whole matter is in God's hands. And he loves these people more than we can ever, ever imagine or express.

KING: Cape Cod, Massachusetts, hello.

CALLER: Hello. I was wondering, what was the depth of her melanoma in the beginning? And what kind of treatment did she have? And did this suddenly just come back or was the melanoma ongoing?

KING: I know you don't want to take it. So, make a comment from me, Jason. I won't subject you to this. How early did this come on?

JASON TORRES: Well, the previous melanoma, she was, I think, about 17. And it was just one freckle on her right arm, not very deep or anything like that. And they removed the freckle.

And I'm not really sure, because, of course, at that time I didn't know her. She was still in high school in Texas and I was in high school in Virginia.

But it seemed that the doctors were very pleased and that everything had worked out well. And that she was free and clear. And she even took part in a five-year study about melanoma in younger people. And, of course, they never picked up on anything that would hint that it had come back.

KING: When it fully set in that day, did she just sort of to sleep?

JASON TORRES: Yes. She was lying in bed. And we were talking. And she went to eat some food, and just, just sort her head fell to her chest.

KING: Be right back with more on LARRY KING LIVE. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're back. Jason Torres has left us, as we said by prior arrangement. He's getting back over to the hospital. Virginia Center Hospital. Is that, correct?

SCHENCK: Virginia Hospital Center

KING: Where is that?

JUSTIN TORRES: In Arlington.

KING: He's going back over there as he does every night. And young Peter is with your family?

JUSTIN TORRES: Mm-hmm.

SCHENCK: We should probably just hasten to say, Larry, that people shouldn't make calls or visit there.

KING: Yeah, don't call the hospital. And don't go. Oh yeah, we should.

Lincoln University, Pennsylvania, hello.

CALLER: Hi. I'd like to know, even though his wife is considered brain dead, are they planning on giving her an anesthetic during the c-section? I think that's a very important thing to consider.

KING: Dr. Gupta.

GUPTA: That is an interesting question. I obviously don't know. Because I'm not one of the treating physicians, here. But I'll tell you a couple of things. One is that even in someone with brain death, sometimes in order to control any spikes in blood pressure, ups or downs in heart rate, they may give an anesthetic at the same time.

Again, it's not saying in any way that she's having pain, but more to just control her blood pressure and heart rate at that time, Larry.

KING: Do they have to be very careful giving it to someone in that condition?

GUPTA: Yes, absolutely. This is a really important point. Again, when someone's brain dead, they're already having a hard time regulating their own blood pressure, regulating their own heart rate. She's obviously on the ventilator, because she would not breathe on her own. If you're going to add any additional medications here, those can sort of hamper your control of that blood pressure and heart rate. So, it's got to be done with very due consideration, Larry.

KING: The ventilator -- how long can you keep someone on a ventilator?

GUPTA: Well, the biggest -- sounds like she's an otherwise pretty healthy person. The biggest concern for her is really developing some sort of infection. You asked about that earlier, a pneumonia or something like that would be the biggest concern.

You can keep someone on a ventilator for quite some time. I mean, we all saw some of the pictures of Christopher Reeve, obviously, who was on a type of ventilator for a long time. As long as you can control those infections and as long as you can control her heart rate and blood pressure, it can go on for some time.

KING: Columbus, Ohio, hello.

CALLER: Hi. My question is for the brother. This is such a sensitive family issue. Why are you bringing it to the LARRY KING LIVE show?

JUSTIN TORRES: Well, because we're trying to raise money. I mean, that's really the reason. We knew from the beginning that this was -- you know, going to the media was going to be difficult. And it has certainly been difficult. But -- and no one likes to -- I mean, I don't like to sit here and hear words like "brain dead." And I know that my brother does not. And I'm sure that my parents are probably not watching this.

But we need help. That's what it comes down to. I mean, we need help and we have asked people for help and people have responded.

KING: That's the way to do it. I mean, what other avenue do you have?

SCHENCK: Well, and we also, we need this as a community. We need to be able to rally around people in crisis. We need ourselves to learn how to give out of ourselves, and to focus on a situation like this is a way for us to learn how to exercise our generosity, how to get out of ourselves and focus on someone else.

So just as the family needs help, we need help too. We need to be able to give. We need to be able to respond. And that's what this story is allowing us to do emotionally, spiritually and economically.

KING: We'll take a break and we'll be back with some more moments with this incredible story.

Again, if you want to help, it's all one word, susantorresfund. It's s-u-s-a-n-t-o-r-r-e-s-f-u-n-d. Susantorresfund.org. This is LARRY KING LIVE. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) KING: We've received some calls, Paul, from people who don't have a computer. Is there a number to call?

SCHENCK: You can call area code 202, 546-8329. And we'll get the information to you.

KING: 202-546-8329, or susantorresfund.org. 202-546-8329.

Chattanooga, Tennessee, hello.

CALLER: Yes. I have a question. First, I want to say, Justin and Jason, I'm very sorry for your family and I'll be thinking about you and praying for you, and this must be difficult.

My question is really for Paul, I suppose. I know that you're saying that in the interest of preserving life, we need to keep Susan alive so that the baby can be born alive. But why -- and I'm not attacking, I'm asking for clarification, or maybe you can help educate me. Why is it OK to remove her from life support then, as soon as the baby's alive? I mean, how can the church justify both moves?

SCHENCK: Well, I want to be careful to say that it is not necessarily the correct moral thing to do. In other words, the Christian moral position on this would not be that she was -- that it's -- that the family is compelled to keep her on an artificial support system, which will not resolve her condition and will not change the outcome. It becomes -- it could fall under the category of excessively burdensome, and doesn't hold out the prospect of resolution.

Those things have to be taken into consideration. In other words, it would not be immoral to continue her life support, but it might not be immoral to withdraw the artificial support.

KING: And, Dr. Gupta, we should explain again, in your -- medically, is a brain dead person dead?

GUPTA: Well, you know, a dead person really means that the heart is no longer beating. I mean, that's going to be the strict definition of it. So a brain dead person is someone who has no chance of recovery, has no brain function, is requiring artificial support to be alive, but people do draw a distinction between brain dead and dead. This is where the whole field of organ transplantation sort of came to be, Larry, based on that distinction.

KING: So in other words, you wouldn't transplant an organ from Susan?

GUPTA: Well, you actually could, because she is brain dead. Her brain is not going to recover. If that was a choice that was being made, you could actually transplant an organ from a brain dead person into someone else.

SCHENCK: We have to be carefully morally here, because we're dealing with two lives, and we can't lose sight of that. We have Susan's life, that is greatly diminished by her -- the condition of her brain. But then we have the unborn child's life, the little girl, too. And you have to protect and preserve that life.

KING: And we are encouraged, Dr. Gupta, by what you told us earlier. You'd bet that this child will be healthy?

GUPTA: It's really interesting. You know, based on the fact that Susan appears like she was a healthy woman, based on the fact that it's very unlikely that this melanoma is going to cross the placenta, this is certainly a rare and unusual situation, but the data is really on her side, the statistic's on her side. If they can get that baby to that critical period where the fetus is developed enough to live outside the womb, the data is very much on their side, Larry.

KING: Thank you for all your input tonight, Dr. Gupta. You've been most helpful.

Justin, are you optimistic?

JUSTIN TORRES: We are optimistic. We are. I mean, the night that this happened, the 48 hours after this happened, a couple of days, we would have never dreamed that we would be here where we are, that we would have gotten this far. And the fact that we're here makes us feel like, well, maybe we have a shot.

KING: And you ought to feel very good. I salute you, all of you.

And to help, it's susantorresfund, that's all one word, susantorresfund.org. If you don't have a computer, call 202-546-8329. 202-546-8329. This very compelling story, you'll do well to help.

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