Pregnant woman at center of medical fight declared brain-dead; j - Dallas News |

Pregnant woman at center of medical fight declared brain-dead; judge recuses self

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The attorney for a man fighting to have his pregnant wife, Marlise Munoz, removed from life support announced Thursday that medical records confirm Marlise is clinically brain-dead. Additionally, the judge who was to hear the case of whether Marlise could be removed from life support recused herself Thursday.

"Thank you for your patience while we work diligently to pursue legal action on behalf of Mr. Munoz," said Erick Munoz's attorneys in a statement. "We have recently received Marlise Munoz's medical records, and can now confirm that Mrs. Munoz is clinically brain dead, and therefore deceased under Texas law."

Judge Melody Wilkinson made the move to recuse herself on Thursday, two days after the family of the woman filed a lawsuit against a Ft. Worth hospital to remove her from life support.

Wilkinson has asked Judge Jeff Walker to assign the case to another judge and another court.

Marlise Munoz was found unconscious in late November, likely due to a blood clot in her lung, and was hospitalized. She was 14 weeks pregnant at the time of the incident.

Her husband, Erick Munoz, said a doctor told him that his wife is brain-dead. John Peter Smith Hospital has refused to take Marlise off life support, citing a Texas law that prevents it from following a family's wishes when a pregnancy is involved.

But Erick and Marlise's parents want the woman taken off life support, and Erick's attorneys say the hospital's own medical records show Marlise cannot be a patient, because she is legally deceased.

The lawsuit states that Erick and Marlise, who both worked as paramedics during their marriage, "expressed clearly" to each other and family their desire "not to be resuscitated should either of them become brain dead."

The Ft. Worth hospital points to a part of the Texas Advance Directives Act that reads: "A person may not withdraw or withhold life-sustaining treatment under this subchapter from a pregnant patient."

Judge Wilkinson did not give a reason for her recusal, but said that the case has time-sensitive issues that require immediate attention.

No hearing date has been set in the case.

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