Brain-dead pregnant Texas woman taken off life support

Brain Dead Pregnancy 1

Marlise Muñoz, 33, has been taken off life support after an eight-week battle with the hospital.

The pregnant brain-dead mother of one was taken off machines at a Fort Worth hospital in Texas about 11:30 a.m. Sunday and her body was released to her husband, Erick Muñoz. Erick has fought with the hospital to remove the ventilator since late November after he found his wife on the kitchen floor past out having suffered an apparent blood clot in her lungs. Mrs. Muñoz was 14 weeks pregnant and the hospital refused to remove her from life support, citing state law that protects the life of an unborn child despite a patient’s end-of-life wishes.

The law “must convey legislative intent to protect the unborn child, otherwise the Legislature would have simply allowed a pregnant patient to decide to let her life, and the life of her unborn child, end,” wrote Mr. Thompson, with the Tarrant County district attorney’s office, which represented the hospital.

Mr. Muñoz had to file a legal case against the hospital earlier this month, arguing that life-support efforts go against her wishes as a paramedic who was familiar with end-of-life issues.
The judge ruled that the state law barring doctors from withdrawing “life-sustaining treatment” to pregnant women did not apply to Mrs. Muñoz because she was brain-dead and therefore legally dead. The hospital had refused to honor the family’s request to disconnect her, claiming that the law prevented them from doing so until they could perform a cesarean delivery. They gave the hospital until 5 p.m. on Monday to shut off life support as requested by her husband.

As for the unborn fetus, court papers released from the hospital stated that the fetus was not viable. It suffered from hydrocephalus, an abnormal accumulation of fluid in the cavities of the brain, as well as, a possible heart problem, and the lower extremities were deformed.

Muñoz’s lawyers, Heather L. King and Jessica Hall Janicek issued this final statement after the hospital complied with the family’s wishes:

“The Muñoz and Machado families will now proceed with the somber task of laying Marlise Muñoz’s body to rest, and grieving over the great loss that has been suffered, may Marlise Muñoz finally rest in peace and her family finds the strength to complete what has been an unbearably long and arduous journey.”

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