A Texas man, hospitalized for less than three weeks following a heart attack, was threatened with the possibility of starvation when his estranged wife requested the removal of all life-supporting measures that are currently a part of his care. 43-year-old Terry Mace, a native of Colorado, suffered seizures and a heart attack earlier this month while working in Texas and was placed on a ventilator and feeding tube as part of his treatment. The wife from whom he has been separated for four years and is currently in divorce proceedings with subsequently requested that those life-saving measures be terminated. The hospital complied with her request, and Mace was able to successfully breathe without the assistance of the ventilator and was “somewhat responsive,” however, it quickly became clear that his life was in imminent danger if the feeding tube remained detached.
Fortunately for Mace, lawyers with the Texas Center for Defense of Life (TCDL) were able to obtain a temprorary restraining order on Tuesday preventing his estranged wife from terminating his care at the hospital which would no doubt result in his starvation and death. Mace’s mother was responsible for contacting the attorneys with TCDL and both she and his father wish for him to remain connected to the feeding tube that is keeping him alive at the Texas hospital until such a time as he recovers, or until further testing is conducted indicating that recovery is no longer possible. Mace and his wife reportedly have three young adult daughters together as well, there has been no word on what their position as to his care is at this time. It has been reported that they have been out of contact with their father for some time, however.
Attorneys for Mace argued that it is not yet appropriate to make such life threatening determinations as he had only been hospitalized for 19 days at the time of the hearing. Stephen Casey, the lead attorney on Mace’s case, argued that Mace should at least be provided the opportunity to recover. He also says that both Mace’s estranged wife and his daughters have an adverse interest in this case as they stand to inherit his estate if he dies. He has argued that Mace’s father, Terry Mace, Sr. should be appointed as legal guardian to make choices regarding the future care of his son.
Mace’s case is similar to another case fought and won by attorneys from the TCDL. In 2007, the group represented the interests of Jesse Ramirez, a Gulf War Veteran who suffered serious injuries in a car accident after returning home. His wife had requested that all life-sustaining treatments be removed and the TCDL attorneys were able to stop that from happening. Several months later, Ramirez fully recovered.
The initial Texas court order preventing removal of the feeding tube from the hospitalized man by order of his estranged wife was only temporary, however, and expired today, Thursday, March 27. Additional court proceedings took place to extend the placement of the tube today and he and his parents were victorious as a judge extended the order preventing removal of his life-sustaining feeding tube for another 60 days.
By Michele Wessel