Brain Death and Pregnancy: Texas Refusing to Take Woman Off Life Support

Brain DeathBrain death and pregnancy have caused a problem for Texas officials, who are refusing to take a woman off life support despite it being against her wishes. The husband of the woman, Erick Munoz, says that his wife never wanted to be put on life support.

Munoz and his wife were both Tarrant County paramedics, and knew all about their end-of-life decisions. Marlise Munoz stated that she did not want to be put on life support, but doctors opted for that after a suspected pulmonary embolism in November. The 33-year-old told Munoz that she did not want to be “kept alive by machines” after losing her brother years ago.

The problem for the couple is that there is a baby involved. Mrs. Munoz is 18 weeks pregnant, so the state laws of Texas prevent the hospital from following her and her husband’s wishes. The life of a fetus is always put before the wishes of the mother and father. However, doctors cannot be certain if a lack of oxygen will cause a problem for the growing baby.  They also cannot say how long the baby was without oxygen and nutrients.

Mr. Munoz understands what the lack of oxygen could possibly mean for his unborn child, and the decisions he makes now will affect the baby’s future. It shows how pregnancy can complicate brain death issues, since Texas doctors are now refusing to abide by the woman’s wishes and take her off life support. If they did, they could face criminal charges.

Mr. Munoz found his wife on the living room floor after her collapse. She was not breathing and he had to perform CPR before calling 911. She did not regain consciousness and has been on life support since. The heartbeat of the fetus is currently normal. Mr. Munoz explained that he knows his decisions will be unpopular with many, but this is what his wife wanted.

He will have to take the case to court, but it will be hard to convince a judge to put the mother’s wishes before the unborn child. While a judge may sympathize with Munoz’s wishes, if a pregnancy is going well brain death does not mean the end of the mother’s life.

Many people have asked why his wife signed a do-not-resuscitate (DNR) order. Despite the Munoz’s talking about it between themselves, the paperwork was not officially filed, so the doctors had no choice but to try and save her life. However, in this case a DNR would not have changed the outcome. When signing the DNR order, there is a box that explains it will not override Texas state law should a woman be pregnant.

The doctors must keep Mrs. Munoz alive for the next 18-22 weeks, until the baby reaches full term and can safely be delivered.

This is something that has happened in the past, and the hospitals have always followed the same procedures. They must follow the laws stating that as soon as doctors find out that there is a pregnancy, they must do everything possible to keep the mother alive. It is unfortunate for this woman who never wanted to face this after brain death, but doctors in Texas refuse to take her off life support while she is still pregnant.

By Alexandria Ingham

Sources:
ABC News
Salon
American Live Wire

3 Responses to Brain Death and Pregnancy: Texas Refusing to Take Woman Off Life Support

  1. Dawn Odom January 7, 2014 at 8:49 pm

    I’m raising a 11 month old baby that her mother overdosed at 8 weeks into the pregnancy and was on life support for 2 1/2 month. She then was put into medical coma due to seizures. Despite all the medical drugs, lack of oxygen to the brain, infections in the womb and being born 6 weeks early the baby is perfect. Birth mom is in nursing home but only has a feeding tube breathes on her on. Miracles can happen.

    Reply
  2. caskinner January 7, 2014 at 2:37 pm

    This human being deserves to have a chance at life.

    Reply
  3. bubba4637 December 24, 2013 at 2:40 pm

    Did the unborn baby sign a do-not-resuscitate order? Probably not.

    Reply

We will read your comment immediately so leave a remark!

RSS Guardian Express

  • Iranian Messi a Target for European Elite: World Cup Preview [Video] April 20, 2014
    A number of Europe’s elite clubs are targeting a young forward dubbed the “Iranian Messi” before he is selected to represent his country at the 2014 World Cup. Rubin Kazan forward Sardar Azmoun is a rising star and he is tipped to win senior honors at the big event in Brazil. Premier League side Arsenal […]
    Robert Shepherd
  • Los Angeles Times Building Scare April 20, 2014
    A scare at the Los Angeles Times building resulted in a lockdown and search of the entire premises. Suspect, Matthew Lowes, was detained by police and taken without incident from the second floor of the building. The second floor of the Times building has space rented by VXI Global Solutions, which Lowes works for. Lowes […]
    Raul Hernandez
  • Indiana Pacers Struggles Continue April 20, 2014
    The Indiana Pacers’ late-season struggles continued as the team lost to the visiting Atlanta Hawks yesterday by a score of 101-93. When the team is playing its best, the offense features a balanced attack. In order for the offense to hum, the team needs balanced scoring from the inside and outside. Against the Hawks, Roy […]
    William Costolo
  • Influenza B Virus Making a Strong Spring Appearance April 20, 2014
    The Influenza strain B virus is making a strong appearance, although spring is not its usual time of year. This strain of the flu is not the same one that was making people sick mid-winter. This means that even if someone has already had the virus once this flu season, they can still get it […]
    Twanna Harps
  • Toronto Raptors Have Bitten Off More Than They Can Chew April 20, 2014
    If you look at the day the city of Toronto and their beloved Toronto Raptor’s had, it would be really easy to come to the conclusion that the  Toronto Raptors have bitten off more than they can chew. Toronto Sun Times readers were greeted with an incendiary cover , featuring a picture of Kevin Garnett […]
    Daryl McElveen

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 628 other subscribers

Quantcast