Fight Continues Over Brain-Dead Texas Woman On Life Support

By Emily Trube and Joe Gomez | KRLD
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(credit: Munoz Family)

(credit: Munoz Family)

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FORT WORTH (KRLD) — A Tarrant County District Judge is scheduled to consider a Haltom City man’s request to remove his pregnant, brain-dead wife from a ventilator.

At the center of the case, state District Judge R.H. Wallace will consider a Texas law that prohibits “life sustaining support” from being removed from a pregnant patient. But Erick Munoz says that his wife was declared brain-dead in November. Medical records filed with the court confirm this.

Marlise was 14 weeks pregnant when her husband found her unconscious in their Haltom City home.

The case has sparked a lot of questions about what brain-death is and how it is different from a coma.

KRLD’s Emily Trube spoke with Dr. Michael Desaloms with Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas and Dr. Nimesh H Patel with Methodist Mansfield Medical Center.

“Life support is not a great words for that,” said Dr. Desaloms. “Because you’re not preserving life in the case of brain dead. I think a better term is artificial support. Basically, you’re supporting a body that’s breathing with a heartbeat, but you’re not preserving life.”

State Representative Garnet Coleman (D-Houston), who helped craft the Texas Advance Directives Law at the center of the legal battle, tells KRLD’s Joe Gomez that he never expected the law to be applied in this way.

“Somebody will file a bill in the legislature to deal with this… I may file one.  But ultimately problems or challenges like this have to be resolved.”

Coleman is siding with Eric Munoz, who has been fighting officials with John Peter Smith Hospital, saying she would have wanted it that way.

“Not to remove life support from a woman who’s pregnant was put into law in 1989… its ambiguous because there’s no definition of if you can remove life support from a dead woman.  But I think the law is actually on the side of the husband.”  Coleman says, “Based on the definitions of deceased.  I believe that supersedes the statement written in the law about pregnant women because that is not defined.”

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