Join The Discussion

 

Ex Rangers manager Washington apologizes for 'breaking wife's trust'

IRVING, Texas (AP) — Former Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington says he is embarrassed for 'breaking his wife's trust.'

read more >

New arena at Will Rogers takes shape


The proposed Will Rogers Memorial Center arena continues to take shape as voters head for a Nov. 4 election to decide whether to approve new taxes to help pay for the $450 million facility.

read more >

Overland Sheepskin opening Sundance Square store in Fort Worth

The store is expected to open by the holidays, Sundance said.

read more >

Home health firm relocates to Ridglea from downtown

Southwest Home Health Services has leased new headquarters space in the Ridglea East Building in West Fort Worth, setting a plan in motion to relocate Oct. 1 from the downtown.

read more >

Texas Health Southwest breaks ground on $40M expansion

A $40 million expansion of Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Southwest Fort Worth is under way, with groundbreaking ceremonies held this week.

read more >

JPS case of pregnant woman puts family in bind

 

NOMAAN MERCHANT, Associated Press

 

 


DALLAS (AP) — Marlise Munoz lies in a North Texas hospital, 19 weeks pregnant but with no chance of seeing her child born.

Her husband, Erick Munoz, says a doctor told him she's brain dead, but John Peter Smith Hospital is refusing to allow him to take her off of life support. The hospital says Texas law prohibits it from following a family directive when a pregnancy is involved, although three experts say the hospital is misreading the law in question.

The case is raising questions about end-of-life care and stands in stark contrast to that of a 13-year-old girl in California whose family is trying to keep her on life support after she was declared brain dead. In that case, the hospital wants to disconnect her from a ventilator, saying the girl is legally dead.

In the Texas case, Munoz said he and his wife both worked as paramedics and have seen life and death up close.

"It's our decision that we didn't want to live in that condition," he said in a phone interview Jan. 3 from his wife's hospital room.

Munoz found his wife unconscious in the early morning hours of Nov. 26. The family says it doesn't know the exact cause, though a pulmonary embolism is a possibility. Marlise Munoz was 14 weeks pregnant at the time.

Erick Munoz described his personal conflict as the father of a 14-month-old boy who wanted another child, but as a medical professional who didn't know if the fetus could survive or how much it had suffered.

Marlise Munoz's case appears to be rare. A 2010 article in the journal BMC Medicine found 30 cases of brain-dead pregnant women over about 30 years. Of 19 reported results, the journal found 12 in which a viable child was born and had post-birth data for two years on only six of them — all of whom developed normally, according to the journal.

Hospital spokeswoman J.R. Labbe said she isn't permitted to confirm that Marlise Munoz had been declared brain-dead, only that she was pregnant and hospitalized in serious condition.

"We are following the law of the state of Texas," Labbe said. "This is not a difficult decision for us. We are following the law."

But three experts interviewed by The Associated Press, including two who helped draft the law, said a brain-dead patient's case wouldn't be covered by the law.

"This patient is neither terminally nor irreversibly ill," said Dr. Robert Fine, clinical director of the office of clinical ethics and palliative care for Baylor Health Care System. "Under Texas law, this patient is legally dead."

John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth is pointing to a provision of the Texas Advance Directives Act that reads: "A person may not withdraw or withhold life-sustaining treatment under this subchapter from a pregnant patient."

Tom Mayo, a Southern Methodist University law professor, said he did not believe the law applied in this case. He said the hospital would not have absolute immunity from a civil or criminal case if it went outside the subchapter referenced by the law, but noted that "most medical decisions" are made without immunity.

While not ruling out legal action, Erick Munoz said Jan. 3 that he was more concerned about letting others know about his family's ordeal and possibly pushing for a change to state law to clarify it.

"If anything good is to come of this, we want to inform people," Munoz said.

In the meantime, Munoz said he continues to deal with what he called a "roller coaster of emotions." He balances work and taking care of his son with visits to his wife's hospital bed, where he talks to her about the life they once shared.

"I tell her, 'Hey, our boy is doing OK,'" Munoz said. "'He's healthy and he's growing.'

"It's joyful stuff that I'm letting her know of, but at the same time, I wish she was there to witness it herself."

____

 

< back

Email   email
hide
Arena
What do you think of the new plans for a new Will Rogers arena and changes at the Convention Center?