Quadriplegic Dan Crews Swamped With Letters: Don't Die

VIDEO: Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Centers Dr. Lachlan Forrow shares his thoughts.
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Dan Crews, who has been a quadriplegic since childhood, has been swamped with handwritten letters, e-mails and phone calls from well-wishers who don't want the 27-year-old to die.

Crews, who lives with his mother in Antioch, Ill., is paralyzed from the neck down and is begging doctors to take him off the mechanical ventilator that allows him to breathe.

For the last 18 months, he has been fighting a losing battle with officials at Froedtert Hospital in Wauwatosa, Wis., where he has been treated since the age of 3.

He has the legal right to refuse treatment, but only with the blessing of his doctors. They say he is too depressed to make that decision.

But since ABCNew.com ran a story on Crews' dilemma, letters have poured in, most telling him to "keep the faith."

"It's been very pleasant, but my mood is the same," he said of his decision to die.

Many of the cards have been religious in nature: "God has a purpose; I hope you change your mind."

Crews, who is Lutheran, said he used to believe in God, "the devil, heaven and hell, faith and sinner and angels."

"Now, I think God is a distant relative who doesn't return phone calls and e-mails," he said. "I believe he exists, but doesn't listen."

Crews spends most of his time in a dark room with his legs strapped down to his bed, unable to do much except eat and watch television. He can operate a computer with a mouth piece.

Calls and cards have come in from as far away as Colorado, Texas and Seattle, including one woman whose husband has been a quadriplegic for 25 years.

"We'd like to be an inspiration to Mr. Crews," said Donna Jackson, 46, of Oklahoma City. "He has a purpose in this life."

She pledges to visit Crews personally if someone can donate a handicapped vehicle so the couple can drive from Oklahoma to Illinois.

Jackson met her husband in a nursing home where he was being rehabilitated after being shot in the head. "He had to learn to talk again," she said.

"There's nothing he can't do because he is a quad," she said. 'My husband and I go everywhere: out to dinner, to social functions and have even traveled several times as far as California and Texas."

Jackson believes she can inspire Crews, if only she could arrange a meeting.

"I am really hoping he can hear my husband's testament," she said. "There are so many things available to him."

Many Spinal Cord Injury Patients Consider Suicide

An estimated 5 to 10 percent of spinal cord injury patients contemplate suicide, six times higher than in the general population, according to the Kessler Institute in New Jersey, one of the nation's top rehabilitation centers. It is where the late actor Christopher Reeve was treated, after he was paralyzed in a riding accident.

Crews became a quadriplegic after a car accident 24 years ago. No one expected Crews to live as long as he did, according to his mother. She was at the wheel when the car swerved off a slick country road into a ditch.

Cheryl Crews punctured a lung and broke her neck, but Dan, strapped in to his car seat, "came out looking like he hadn't even broken a bone."

"But he was all blue and they had to breathe life back into him," she said. He has needed a ventilator ever since.

Despite paralysis, Crews said he had a happy childhood. He was an honors student in high school and earned an associate's degree.

After the accident, the family won a lawsuit and received a $4 million trust to take care of their son's medical expenses.

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