Tragic Loss: School Teacher Killed by Texas 10-Day Rule

Virginia M. lived a beautiful life with her husband of 57 years, Jack, until a series of medical complications placed her in the hospital in September 2020 at the age of 74.

Virginia, a retired teacher, was first admitted to Texoma Medical Center to receive treatment for pneumonia. Two months later, Virginia suffered cardiac arrest, which led to an anoxic brain injury and placed her in a coma. Jack remained faithfully by her side.

Virginia was eventually given a ventilator to assist her breathing and began dialysis treatments. The hospital and physicians repeatedly urged Jack to remove Virginia’s care, citing that her treatment was “medically inappropriate.” When pressed by Virginia’s attorney, the physician agreed that dialysis was indeed working to filter Virginia’s kidneys, and the ventilator was helping Virginia to breathe. In other words, the treatment that the hospital and physician were seeking to remove was working. Jack, who served as Virginia’s surrogate decision maker, refused to prematurely end his wife’s life. Soon after, he received notice from the hospital that an ethics committee would meet to determine whether to continue Virginia’s ventilator and dialysis. Virginia’s life rested in the hands of the hospital committee of strangers, not her husband.

Under a state law known as the 10-Day Rule, Texas hospitals may remove a patient’s life-sustaining care — against the patient’s and family’s instructions — if the committee agrees with the doctor’s personal decision that such treatment is “inappropriate” for any reason, even non-medical reasons. After the committee issues their judgment, the hospital gives the family just 10 days to find another facility before pulling the plug on their loved one’s life.

Texoma Medical Center held the meeting over a Zoom conference in which a committee of doctors and hospital employees scrutinized Virginia’s medical condition. During the meeting, Jack shared his beautiful testimony with the committee: 

“I understand that my wife’s condition is challenging, but I don’t think a person should be put to death because they’re hard to attend to. I love my wife very dearly. When I can see her, I can still see all those qualities that make a human being special on this earth. And God hasn’t determined that she should die, so I don’t see why a group of doctors should be able to override that decision and sentence my wife to death.”

However, Jack discovered that the doctors didn’t believe his wife’s treatment was “medically inappropriate” but that her life was not worth living in their eyes. And Texas law steals this decision from family members without any due process of law. 

The hospital committee decided to begin the countdown under the deadly 10-Day Rule. When time expired, Texoma Medical Center removed Virginia’s life-sustaining treatment, and she passed away six hours later.

Virginia told her husband that she did not want her life to be intentionally cut short, but the 10-Day Rule robbed Jack of his right to honor those wishes as her surrogate decision maker. This tragedy was only possible because of this anti-Life provision in Texas law.

The value of Virginia’s life did not diminish when she fell into a coma or disappear when her condition failed to improve. By God’s design, her life was just as valuable at the time of her death as that of the medical professional who removed her ventilator.

This is Virginia’s story– the story of yet another victim of Texas’s atrocious 10-Day Rule. Please join us in raising awareness of the unthinkable situation this law forces families into all across Texas. Your support saves husbands like Jack from suffering the heartbreaking loss of a loved one at the hands of hospitals who would take advantage of this unjust law.

We are sincerely grateful for your commitment to the Pro-Life cause. Thank you!

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