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Hospital Sued for Keeping Braindead, Pregnant Woman Marlise Munoz on Life Support

On November 26, Erick Munoz found his 14-weeks pregnant wife, Marlise, unconscious in their home. Erick Munoz is now suing John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth for keeping the dead woman on life support against his explicit wishes.

Although the cause of the condition remains unclear, her family has mentioned that it is possibly attributable to a blood clot. It is likely that her body had been deprived of oxygen for some time before Munoz found her.

The husband and wife were both paramedics, and, as Munoz told the Associated Press, his wife had previously told him that she would rather die than be sustained on life support. Marlise’s parents have agreed with Munoz’s decision.

As the lawsuit explains, Marlise Munoz “gave clear instructions to her husband and family – Marlise was not to remain on any type of artificial ‘life sustain treatment.’” It continues on to state that the “court should order JPS to immediately discontinue” treatment on the dead body.

The hospital has disobeyed Munoz’s wishes, however, under a law that requires that the hospital continues treating pregnant patients.”

As Hospital spokeswoman J.R. Labbe has said, “This is not a difficult decision for us. We are following the law.”

The lawsuit filed by Erick Munoz counters that this law does not apply, because the woman is legally and medically dead, without any chance of recovery. Munoz’s attorneys have requested an expedited ruling; no hearing was set as of Tuesday afternoon.

Although doctors have been monitoring Munoz’s fetus, its current condition remains unclear.

A 2010 article from the journal BMC Medicine reveals that while 30 cases of brain-dead pregnant women have been recorded over the past 30 years, in only 12 of them was a viable child born. Of these 12, further data was only available on six of the children, all of whom developed normally.

The article also specifies that a fetus at 24 weeks of gestation has between a 20 and 30 percent chance of survival; Munoz’s fetus was still several weeks short of this stage.

Sources: The Kansas City Star, NBC News

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