Father Fights to Keep Brain-Damaged Daughter Alive

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," February 1, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: A parent's worst nightmare: losing their child. But what do you do in a situation where your child has been diagnosed brain dead and has to eat with a feeding tube?

Twenty-three-year-old Lauren Richardson lives her life every day like that. Her father, Randy Richardson, is now in a battle with her mother to keep her alive.

Last week, the court awarded guardianship of Lauren to her mother, Edith Towers, who maintains her daughter did not wish to live this way and seeks to turn off her feeding tube. It's an emotional case that has drawn comparisons to that of Terri Schiavo.

So where does Lauren's father go from here? Randy Richardson joins us now, live.

Do you see this as similar to the Schiavo case?

RANDY RICHARDSON, FATHER OF LAUREN RICHARDSON: The similarities is the cruelty that took place during Terri's demise. You would have to read the book "A Life That Matters" to get the full story.

And Lauren's is different. Lauren's, we have a situation with a girl that is improving. She's exactly like Terri. She's alive. She's not terminal and seeking care.

COLMES: What about now — I — this has got to be torturous to have to not only live through this but talk about it publicly, which I know you want to do to get this story out there.

But the doctors did say, and the court agreed with them, that it's a permanent vegetative state, without any improvement expected. That's what the court says the doctors told them, which is why they decided what they decided.

RICHARDSON: A diagnosis could come forth. In the past year I have dug into that deeply. On the PVS side of that, there's 40 percent to 50 percent of that that is wrong.

And the courts and the doctors deemed my daughter a non-dying person. It's a non-dying handicap. Alleged handicapped person.

COLMES: Do you give any credence to your former wife's contention that your daughter's position always was, "If I'm ever in a vegetative state, I don't want to continue?" And that is what is being claimed by the other side here.

RICHARDSON: I knew my daughter well. The claim on the other side, I've wondered why they have said that for the last nine months. I have no idea.

COLMES: What would be their motivation? Do you think they do not love her as much? They would not want the best for her as you do?

RICHARDSON: How can not love our daughter? She's handicapped. She needs our love. I'm in full support of her care. I don't know. I've asked myself that again.

COLMES: Is it your position — do you have any medical evidence that she can recuperate? And to what extent could she recuperate and live a life?

RICHARDSON: Yes, for one, I love my daughter as she is. Anything would be an add to that. She — we do have neurologists that have looked at her. We've been unable to submit that to the courts. That find that she is...

COLMES: Why not?

RICHARDSON: At this point in time it's all under appeal. We're working on that now. We weren't able at that point to get it in. She is cognizant of her — aware of her surroundings. She's vocal. She moves. She feels pain.

COLMES: The Delaware Court of Chancery Master Sam Glasscock, who's ruled over this, said the medical evidence supplied by physicians and by an independent neurologist and by Lauren's own doctors are in agreement, which is why they came to the conclusion they came to about the — that disagrees with your conclusion.

RICHARDSON: Yes. The agreements on some of these were taken nine months prior to this. Lauren has made great strides and improvements. They also deem my daughter alleged handicapped and a non-dying person.

SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: Hey, first — Randy, first of all, I'm sorry about your daughter. These cases are always sad here.

Do you have any medical opinions contradicting this idea that she's in a permanent vegetative state?

RICHARDSON: Yes. That PVS statement — again she's very much alive. She...

HANNITY: But I want to ask you specifically, any medical experts that will testify that she is not in a permanent vegetative state?

RICHARDSON: We have neurologists that have statements that say there is promising possibilities for my daughter.

HANNITY: When you say she's cognizant, she's vocal. Is that — does she answer voice commands? Is she vocal on voice commands?

RICHARDSON: No. No. She — when she needs something, she's loud enough that the nurses down the hallway know she's either uncomfortable, needs something. They will come or she's...

HANNITY: And the nurses would testify that she has this way of communicating by making vocal — you know, by making noises that they understand is a request?

RICHARDSON: ...even talking to them in the last few days, yes.

HANNITY: Really? Now, the story is here, I mean, your daughter had a heroin overdoes. But did she have a long struggle with drugs that you know of?

RICHARDSON: My daughter had developed a situation with a boyfriend where the heroin addiction did play a part.

HANNITY: She's a beautiful girl.


HANNITY: I mean, it's so sad. I mean, I'm sure very difficult for you.

RICHARDSON: It's a tragedy. She — she had not been on heroin for 10 months.

HANNITY: She had been?

RICHARDSON: She had not been.

HANNITY: She had not been?


HANNITY: Now she was pregnant at the time — and this was just like a one-time relapse. Is that what it was that you were saying?

RICHARDSON: Yes. They had had a problem. She had had a conversation with her mother, found she was pregnant.


RICHARDSON: Her mother was pleading with her to abort, and she said no.

HANNITY: And she gave birth to this child. They kept her in this state alive enough that she gave birth to your granddaughter?


HANNITY: And how is the granddaughter doing?

RICHARDSON: The granddaughter is fine. She'll be a year old on her birthday.

HANNITY: Now, the court awarded your wife, the mother of the child, your daughter, guardianship here. You're now in the process of appealing this ruling here. What is she planning to do? And how fast? And what are your options to prevent her from pulling this tube?

RICHARDSON: OK. It's a ruling that's handed down that we've appealed. So we're both still maintaining guardianship shared at that point. I do not know. The lawyers have not come with (ph) anything. We have placed all our appeals, have our evidence and are working on that at this time.

HANNITY: She has custody of the granddaughter?

RICHARDSON: Yes, she does. There is a case pending in March.

HANNITY: Is there any way you can resolve something like this out of court, inasmuch as you can say, "I will take care of her for the rest of her life. You don't have to. And you can take care of the granddaughter"? Would that work? Is there any way that there could be a negotiated settlement?

RICHARDSON: I'm looking in on it. I've asked that from the bottom of my heart.

HANNITY: What does she say?

RICHARDSON: There is no reply.

HANNITY: No reply? No "yes," no "no," no nothing?


HANNITY: It's a sad situation.


HANNITY: As a father, I wish you — first of all, I pray that, you know, miracles do happen. It's happened before. And I wish it all works out for you and your family. Thank you for being with us.


HANNITY: Appreciate it.

COLMES: Thank you, sir.

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