US & Canada

Pregnant brain dead Marlise Munoz' husband files suit

Erick Munoz is seen in front of a photo of his wife, Marlise, in Haltom City, Texas, on 3 January 2014 Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Erick Munoz said his wife Marlise was deceased and should be removed from life-support in accordance with her wishes

The husband of a brain dead woman is suing the Texas hospital keeping her on life support because she is pregnant.

Marlise Munoz was 14 weeks pregnant when she fell unconscious in November, likely because of a blood clot.

John Peter Smith Hospital has argued a state law prohibits denying life-saving treatment to pregnant patients.

Mrs Munoz's husband Erick and her family say such life support efforts go against her wishes as a paramedic familiar with end-of-life issues.

Mr Munoz sued the hospital in Texas district court on Tuesday, claiming the hospital was incorrectly applying the state statute.

"Marlise Munoz is legally dead, and to further conduct surgical procedures on a deceased body is nothing short of outrageous," he claimed in court documents.

The court filing also stipulates that, as Mrs Munoz is technically deceased, "she cannot possibly be a 'pregnant patient'" under Texas health and safety codes.

'Following the law'

Mr Munoz has requested the court to order the hospital immediately to cease any further medical procedures on his wife, to remove her from any life support equipment and to release her body to her family for proper burial.

Mrs Munoz, 33, has remained unconscious since her husband discovered her on the kitchen floor on 26 November while pregnant with the couple's second child.

A blood clot has been listed as a possible cause.

The health of Mrs Munoz's foetus is currently unknown, but is believed to have been without oxygen for some time before medical intervention on 26 November.

Her family has argued she told them she did not want to be kept alive by artificial means prior to November.

JR Labbe, a spokesman for John Peter Smith Hospital, has said administrators stand by the decision to keep Mrs Munoz on life support.

"This is not a difficult decision for us," she told the Associated Press news agency. "We are following the law."

Related Topics