Make this page my home page
  1. Drag the home icon in this panel and drop it onto the "house icon" in the tool bar for the browser

  2. Select "Yes" from the popup window and you're done!

Home > Topics > Legislation & Funding

Fetus of medic's brain-dead wife is 'abnormal'

Medical records indicate the fetus is deformed, as a Texas medic fights a legal battle against a law keeping his pregnant brain-dead wife alive

By Nomaan Merchant
The Associated Press 

DALLAS — The pregnant, brain-dead Texas woman being kept on life support over her family's protests is carrying a fetus that is "distinctly abnormal," attorneys for the woman's husband said Wednesday.

Marlise Munoz remains hooked up to machines in a Fort Worth hospital, while her husband and the hospital are locked in a court battle about whether to retain life support.

The case has raised questions about end-of-life care and whether a pregnant woman who is considered legally and medically dead should be kept on life support for the sake of a fetus. The case has gotten the attention of groups on either side of the abortion debate, as anti-abortion groups argue Munoz's fetus deserves a chance to be born.

Erick Munoz said his wife, a fellow paramedic, was clear with him before he found her unconscious on Nov. 26: If she ever fell into this kind of condition, pull life support. But John Peter Smith Hospital says it's bound by state law that prohibits the withdrawal of treatment from a pregnant patient, although several experts interviewed by The Associated Press have said the hospital is misapplying the law.

Munoz's attorneys, Heather King and Jessica Hall Janicek, issued a statement Wednesday describing the condition of the fetus, now believed to be at about 22 weeks' gestation. King and Janicek based their statement on medical records they received from the hospital.

"According to the medical records we have been provided, the fetus is distinctly abnormal," the attorneys said. "Even at this early stage, the lower extremities are deformed to the extent that the gender cannot be determined."

The attorneys said the fetus also has fluid building up inside the skull and possibly has a heart problem.

"Quite sadly, this information is not surprising due to the fact that the fetus, after being deprived of oxygen for an indeterminate length of time, is gestating within a dead and deteriorating body, as a horrified family looks on in absolute anguish, distress and sadness," the attorneys said.

Spokeswomen for the hospital and the Tarrant County District Attorney's office, which is representing the hospital in the lawsuit, declined to comment Wednesday.

A hearing in the case is scheduled for Friday. Munoz's lawsuit asks a judge to order the hospital to pull life support and return Marlise Munoz's body to her family.

Several experts have said the Texas Advance Directives Act doesn't apply in this case because Marlise Munoz, having suffered brain death, is legally and medically dead — a key argument in Erick Munoz's lawsuit.

Munoz previously told the AP he wasn't confident about the health of the fetus. His wife was 14 weeks pregnant when he found her unconscious in November, possibly from a blood clot.

Associated PressCopyright 2013 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

A 2010 article in the journal BMC Medicine found 30 cases of brain-dead pregnant women over about 30 years. Of 19 reported results, the journal found 12 in which a viable child was born and had post-birth data for two years on only six of them — all of whom developed normally, according to the journal.

Comments
The comments below are member-generated and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of EMS1.com or its staff. If you cannot see comments, try disabling privacy and ad blocking plugins in your browser. All comments must comply with our Member Commenting Policy.
Melinda Teaster Williams Melinda Teaster Williams Friday, January 24, 2014 6:10:09 AM wow so said for the Family, My heart and prayers go out to them
Wayland Slater Wayland Slater Friday, January 24, 2014 2:07:26 PM So many laws that could be applied to this situation I don't think there could be a definite judgment one way or another. We had a MVA in which the woman was about 23-26 weeks pregnant. She had obvious head injuries. No seat belt, bulged windshield. EEG showed brain death. All other tests on the fetus showed no problems. I know the husband, who was driving, was faced with "the decision". Of course the rest of the family, both sides, just made things more complicated. What it finally came down to, sadly, was insurance. It was another driver's fault. Of course the mother was going to need expensive long term care, and the baby, who knew? Luckily, the faulted driver's insurance agreed to pay for the mother's care. Another type of insurance did take care of the baby's expensive. Baby was taken by C-section with no complication. I think it was about six weeks later they let the mother "go".
Tina Barham Tina Barham Friday, January 24, 2014 3:02:49 PM So many words , insurance, money and so sad again.

EMS1 Offers

We Recommend...

Connect with EMS1

Mobile Apps Facebook Twitter Google+

Get the #1 EMS eNewsletter

Fire Newsletter Sign up for our FREE email roundup of the top news, tips, columns, videos and more, sent 3 times weekly
Enter Email
See Sample

Online Campus Both

Legislation & Funding Videos