The organs of a 26-year-old Texas woman were removed against her family’s wishes on Friday, after doctors declared her brain-dead.
According to Martha Perez’s family, Arlington doctors declared Perez brain-dead after she sustained injuries from a car wreck involving a drunk driver. Although the Tarrant County medical examiner reported the occurrence, the hospital Perez was taken to declined to comment and cited patient privacy.
“She still has heart and lung functions,” Juan Martinez, a family member, said. “They took her off the life support and she was still breathing.”
Perez was a registered organ donor and did not have a will or an advance directive instructing doctors what to do in regard to life support. Therefore, after doctors pronounced Perez brain-dead, they began the organ harvesting process. According to Martinez, however, the family felt the decision came too soon, and they are now seeking legal advice.
“We don't want to be pressured,” Martinez said, prior to Perez’s organs being removed. “My family feels pressured and it's just hard for someone to make that kind of decision when this just happened.”
According to legal expert Jessica Dunne, the family had the legal right to keep Perez on life support if her organs were still functioning. If her organs had stopped functioned, it would have been the hospital’s right to chose.
Police reported that 38-year-old Eldrick Westbrook ran a red light before hitting a vehicle carrying four passengers on Wednesday. Westbrook was arrested and charged with two counts of intoxication manslaughter and one count of intoxication assault. Because of Perez’s death, it’s possible that the assault case will be upgraded.