The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Marlise Muñoz taken off life support after hearing

Ron+T.+Ennis%2FFort+Worth+Star-Telegram%2FMCT+++Erick+Mu%C3%B1oz+follows+his+lawyers+out+of+the+Fort+Worth+courtroom+Jan.+24+after+a+judge+ruled+that+his+wife+and+former+TCC+student+Marlise+Mu%C3%B1oz+and+their+unborn+child+had+to+be+removed+from+life+support%2C+which+occurred+Jan.+26.
Ron T. Ennis/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/MCT Erick Muñoz follows his lawyers out of the Fort Worth courtroom Jan. 24 after a judge ruled that his wife and former TCC student Marlise Muñoz and their unborn child had to be removed from life support, which occurred Jan. 26.

By Rhiannon Saegert/managing editor

Ron T. Ennis/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/MCT   Erick Muñoz follows his lawyers out of the Fort Worth courtroom Jan. 24 after a judge ruled that his wife and former TCC student Marlise Muñoz and their unborn child had to be removed from life support, which occurred Jan. 26.
Ron T. Ennis/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/MCT  Erick Muñoz follows his lawyers out of the Fort Worth courtroom Jan. 24 after a judge ruled that his wife and former TCC student Marlise Muñoz and their unborn child had to be removed from life support, which occurred Jan. 26.
Ron T. Ennis/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/MCT  Erick Muñoz stands in front of a photo of him and his wife.
Ron T. Ennis/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/MCT Erick Muñoz stands in front of a photo of him and his wife.

After a Jan. 24 hearing, John Peter Smith Hospital removed former TCC student Marlise Muñoz’s body from life support on Jan. 26.

Muñoz, brain dead since Nov. 28, remained on life support for two months because she was pregnant at the time of her death. JPS Hospital, citing a state law, refused to disconnect life support until the fetus became viable.

State District Judge R.H. Wallace ruled the law could not apply to someone no longer legally alive and ordered the hospital to pronounce Muñoz dead and remove her from life support by 5 p.m. Jan. 27.

“JPS Health Network has followed what we believed were the demands of a state statute. From the onset, JPS has said its role was not to make nor contest law but to follow it,” according to a statement from JPS Health Network.

During the hearing, attorneys Heather King and Jessica Janicek argued the statute, which states life-saving treatment cannot be withheld from a pregnant woman, did not apply to Muñoz.

“She is not in a coma. She is not somewhere in a vegetative state,” King said. “She is dead.”

Muñoz hadn’t been pronounced dead at the time of the hearing, but JPS’ lawyer, state attorney Larry Thompson, stipulated that she was, in fact, dead.

Thompson argued that JPS had an obligation to protect the lives of unborn children, in accordance with the state statute.

“This is a tragic and very difficult case, but I’m as prepared to make my ruling as I’ll ever be,” Wallace said before making his ruling.

A statement from Muñoz’s attorneys said the family will prepare for a funeral and a chance to grieve.

“May Marlise Muñoz finally rest in peace, and her family find the strength to complete what has been an unbearably long and arduous journey,” a statement from attorneys Janicek and King said.

Marlise Muñoz’s husband, Erick Muñoz, said his wife was a hard-working student only a few class credits from transferring into a nursing program.

“She was dedicated,” Muñoz said. “She was going to school and working full-time. She wanted to be a nurse.

Muñoz said his wife was planning to transfer to the University of Texas at Arlington. She was taking a semester off when she collapsed in November and was taken to the hospital for what was believed to be a pulmonary embolism.

“She was wanting to better herself, for herself and her family,” Muñoz said.

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