The plight of an Arizona man reveals, once again, how anti-Life hospital policies threaten the lives of vulnerable patients. Patricia Adames likely saved her son’s life by posting videos of his condition online when her pleas to the hospital went unanswered. Her son, David Ruiz II, 32, suffered a stroke on New Year’s Eve, and the resulting brain damage has left him in a coma.
Two weeks later, the hospital declared Ruiz “brain dead.” Ruiz’s mother and sister dispute the claim that Ruiz is brain dead, noting that he appears to move his foot in response to his mother’s voice and other loved ones. According to his family, the hospital discontinued treatment and the administration of nutrition and hydration without informing them. He remained on a ventilator that is helping him breathe, but the hospital attempted to remove the ventilator.
Shockingly, his family says Ruiz went 19 days without receiving food and 15 days without water. After the hospital allegedly ignored the family’s pleas to restore nutrition and hydration, Adames posted videos to social media that received attention from across the country. In an emotional video from January 24, Adames said, “As you can see, his body is emaciating. His body is literally deteriorating, it’s disappearing before us because he is being denied nutrition. He is starving in a hospital.” She added, “I am coming to you…asking, ‘please help me get my son the treatment that he needs, nutrition and hydration.’ He’s being starved at this very moment.”
His mother told news outlets, “He is still alive. He hasn’t gotten time to heal.” She added, “It’s not just me, but many expert doctors and attorneys who also believe he is alive. I have a tribe of people behind me and many other Christian agencies.”
With the help of the Terri Schiavo Life and Hope Network, Adames was able to work with lawyers and doctors who are expert in cases related to life-support. The Terri Schiavo Life & Hope Network helps patients denied the Right to Life and denied access to basic nutrition and hydration. In Texas, thanks to an incremental reform in 2015, the law ensures that artificially administered nutrition and hydration (AANH) cannot be withdrawn over a patient’s medical directive in most cases.
The hospital agreed to restore nutrition and hydration while the family seeks to find a long-term care facility that can accept Ruiz. Life Legal Defense Foundation’s Alexandra Snyder said about the case, “Nutrition and hydration are basic human rights. It is outrageous that a hospital would deny these most basic provisions to a disabled patient. Ms. Adames is not looking for the hospital to keep her son indefinitely. She is only asking that they give David the nutrition and hydration he needs in order to be transferred to a facility that can provide appropriate care.”
Ruiz, a father of two young girls, is an astonishing example of how hospitals have seized power to make life and death decisions, even against the expressed wishes of patients and their families. Ruiz had told his family many times that if he were ever on any form of life support, he would not want to be removed. According to reports, he expressed these thoughts after watching his nephew die after being removed from a ventilator following a near-drowning incident.
Although incremental reforms have protected most Texans from facing the harrowing near-starvation that Ruiz’s family has fought, the Texas 10-Day Law still puts countless vulnerable patients at risk. Under this alarming statute, Texas hospitals can remove treatment, even life-sustaining treatment (ventilator, dialysis, etc.), and the patient cannot appeal the decision. Even if the patient is conscious, coherent, and actively requesting the continuation of life-sustaining treatment, the 10-Day-Law gives the hospital the power to overrule the patient’s wishes. The patient and his or her legal surrogate have a mere 10 days to arrange an emergency transfer to another facility that would be willing to continue treatment. Such a transfer is often extraordinarily complicated in such cases, and there are no practical means under the 10-Day-Law for a typical patient to stop the ticking clock on their own.
Texas’s anti-Life 10-Day Law gained national and international attention when a video of Chris Dunn pleading for his life was shared on the internet. Patients like Chris Dunn and David Ruiz must be guaranteed not only the right to adequate nutrition and hydration but also the Right to Life. Patients like Chris and David are why Texas Right to Life is working at the Capitol to ensure that Texas changes the law to recognize the Right to Life of all patients by repealing the anti-Life 10-Day Law.
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