Husband sues to remove brain dead pregnant wife


POSTED: Wednesday, January 15, 2014 - 2:28pm

UPDATED: Wednesday, January 15, 2014 - 2:41pm

The family of a brain dead woman being kept alive on life support have filed a lawsuit against a Texas hospital. They say her wishes shouldn't be disregarded just because she's pregnant, Ed Lavandera reports.

Marlise Munoz' husband, Erick, and her parents all say Marlise never wanted to be kept on life support. The family says they've been telling the hospital exactly that since Marlise collapsed of a blood clot in her lung on November 26th, Erick Munoz, "You reach the point where, you know, you wish that your wife's body would stop."

So now the family has filed a lawsuit, in hopes the courts will back them up.

In the suit, lawyers for the Marlise's husband say that what's being done to the brain dead pregnant woman is "nothing more than the cruel and obscene mutilation of a deceased body."

The lawsuit demands that Marlise Munoz be immediately disconnected from ventilators and that her body be turned over to the family for proper burial

Lynne Machado, Mother, "We were told she was brain dead on November 26th."

Marlise Munoz's body is still in the intensive care unit of John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth.

With the lawsuit now filed, hospital officials have said they're "encouraged by this development because the courts are the appropriate venue to provide clarity, direction and resolution in this matter."

A hospital spokeswoman has said, "This is not a difficult decision for us."

Ed Lavandera, "Officials at John Peter Smith hospital say they are simply following the Texas law that overrides a woman's end-of-life wishes if she is pregnant. Marlise's family calls that decision absurd. They say because she is brain dead, the law does not apply to her."

Tom Mayo, a law professor at Southern Methodist University, helped write the law 15 years ago. He says the hospital is wrong because Marlise can not be brought back to life.

Tom Mayo, SMU Law Professor, "I don't see how we can use a provision of the law that talks about treating or not treating a patient in a case where we really don't have a patient."

Marlise's fetus is now about 21 weeks along, doctors can still  hear a heartbeat, but it's not clear what kind of damage the blood clot that killed Marlise has done to the unborn baby.

Medical experts say even ultra sounds and heartbeat patterns can't accurately predict if the fetus is viable.

That's risk the family does not want to take,

Dr. Jeff Ecker, Massachusetts General Hospital, "Those things can't perfectly predict health and outcome. And there are certainly occasions where as we look as best as we can tell, a fetus appears to be developing appropriately and meeting all its milestones, and yet after after birth, after delivery there is evidence of profound compromise."

Lynne Machado, "I cry every time I hear it."

As Marlise Munoz's family deals with this ordeal, Marlise's mother helps her son-in-law take care of the couple's 15 month-old, who doesn't understand what's happened.

Lynne Machado, "He'll see the doors open and he'll look to see if it's momma coming through the door still."

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