Recently, Texas Right to Life’s patient advocacy team received a call from a North Texas family living their worst nightmare.
Their 24 year old daughter, Kandace,* had been pronounced brain dead at a hospital in Collin County.
In Texas, a discussion, diagnosis, or declaration of brain death inevitably leads to a pronouncement of death. Under current state law, a death pronouncement allows a hospital to remove all medical treatment, including life-sustaining care and food and water, without consent of the patient’s surrogate decision-maker.
In other words, when a patient suffers a brain injury and is consequently unconscious, minimally conscious, or unresponsive, that patient is at risk of being labeled as brain dead.
Typically, as in Kandace’s case, brain death diagnosis and subsequent brain death declaration occurs a mere 1-3 days after the patient’s arrival in the hospital.
Kandace’s family just wanted a few more days before removing her life support. The hospital was willing to give the family more time. But Kandace’s driver’s license identified her as an organ donor. Once the hospital pronounced death, the issue was out of their hands. The organ procurement agency “took over” Kandace. Despite Kandace being only unconscious and not dead as evidenced by her physiological functions still working.
Despite Kandace’s physical presence in the hospital and the hospital’s willingness to give the family a few more days’ time, the organ procurement agency was hovering closely.
What happened next could only be orchestrated by the Lord. ONLY by His infinite wisdom and mercy. (As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:8-9.)
Kandace’s family attended church with a longtime supporter of Texas Right to Life whose law partner agreed to represent the family. This attorney had worked with Texas Right to Life’s patient advocacy in the past on similar matters.
At the last minute, this attorney secured a temporary restraining order to prevent the organ procurement organization from removing Kandace’s life support against the family’s objections.
Incredibly, the judge who was randomly assigned to hear Kandace’s plea was Pro-Life! In fact, years before becoming a judge, Texas Right to Life had helped this particular attorney-now-judge represent a family in another patient’s rights case!
The community of attorneys, legal professionals, and judges who share the commitment to protect life is growing.
These law professionals do not find any penumbra in the Constitution from which to fashion a right to privacy, a right to die, or a right to kill.
The legal and patient advocacy for the Right to Life has quickly blossomed into a distinguished alliance of credentialed activists who are willing to dedicate their time and talents for the cause.
Outcome of the case: The temporary restraining order afforded more cherished time for Kandace’s family to say their goodbyes. Her family was able to find peace in her passing and honored her wishes to be an organ donor–in their own time.
Thank you for defending the lives and dignity of patients by supporting Texas Right to Life’s Patient Advocacy Fund.
*Names changed for patient privacy*