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It appears there will be a happy ending to the story of Ora Mae Magouirk, the 81-year-old Georgia widow whose family has been at loggerheads over her medical care, visitation privileges and whether she should be “allowed to die” but now is reaching agreements on key issues.
Today, attorneys on both sides agreed Magouirk’s brother and sister, A.B. McLeod, 64, of Anniston, Ala., and Lonnie Ruth Mullinax, 74, of Birmingham, will be allowed to visit their sister during regular visiting hours at the University of Alabama-Birmingham Medical Center in Birmingham, where she is receiving treatment for an aortic dissection.
Moreover, Jack Kirby, attorney for McLeod and Mullinax, told WorldNetDaily that under terms of the agreement, his clients will be allowed to talk directly to Magouirk’s doctors about her condition, as opposed to having such information “filtered through third parties.”
As reported by WND, when Magouirk was airlifted and admitted to UAB Medical Center on Saturday, her granddaughter and legal guardian, Beth Gaddy, 36, of LaGrange, Ga., left an oral order barring Magouirk’s siblings and her nephew, Ken Mullinax, 45, of Birmingham, from visiting the patient in the critical care unit.
Ruth Mullinax has been a patient at UAB for the same condition, brought on, says her son, by the stress she’s suffered worrying about her sister.
Kirby said he talked to Ruth Mullinax yesterday, and “she’s doing very well.” He did not comment on her sister’s condition.
However, relatives say it appears Magouirk is pulling through, despite her aortic dissection and the starvation and dehydration she endured from March 28 to April 9 at Hospice La-Grange, where she was placed by her granddaughter.
In her living will, Magouirk stated that fluids and nourishment were to be withheld only if she were either comatose or “vegetative,” and she is neither. Nor is she terminally ill, which is generally a requirement for admission to a hospice.
McLeod told WND the two women visited yesterday in Magouirk’s room, and “Ora Mae recognized [Ruth Mullinax] and they laughed and chatted briefly together.”
In an e-mail, Ken Mullinax provided further details of yesterday’s meeting, quoting remarks his mother, Ruth, made when he visited her at UAB early this morning.
“I visited with Sister Mae last evening, and she looks so much better now,” Ruth Mullinax said. “Mae opened her eyes and when she saw me said, ‘Where you been, Lonnie?'”
“I asked her how she felt and she whispered, ‘I can’t buck dance.'”
“So I stayed with her for 30 minutes, and when I got ready to leave she grabbed my hand and said, ‘Bring me a brown sack and take me home.’ That was a saying of Momma’s that means pack up my stuff. I am so thankful to the Lord that Sister is doing so well now.”
Ken Mullinax’s mother also told him she had spoken with the charge nurse and learned her sister is listed as being in stable condition. She has an IV in her arm for hydration and is being fed through a temporary nasal feeding tube, but she is cognizant. She speaks very softly because her throat is still very sore from the dehydration, he said.
The meeting between the sisters was arranged by an attorney in Birmingham and the UAB Medical Center that agreed late Wednesday to allow McLeod and Ruth Mullinax limited visits each day for humanitarian reasons. Under this arrangement, the siblings could visit their sister at 5:30 p.m. each day for half an hour.
Kirby then drafted motions to file with the probate court in LaGrange, asking the court to order Beth Gaddy to allow the visits.
McLeod said neither he nor nephew Ken Mullinax had done anything to cause problems at the hospital or hospice.
“We didn’t cause a scene, we didn’t cause anything in our sister’s room, and we think we ought to be able to see our sister,” McLeod said.
A second motion was to demand Gaddy “show cause” as to why she refused to allow her relatives to visit her grandmother and prohibited doctors from discussing the case with them.
Gaddy relaxed her position. She agreed to allow full visitation privileges, but only if Ken Mullinax promised never to talk to the media again or communicate in any way with Internet bloggers.
Mullinax refused and was on Fox News Channel’s “Hannity & Colmes” yesterday, where he provided a nationwide audience with details of the case. Hannity quoted from an exclusive story on WND, which was the first national news organization to investigate and report on the Magouirk case.
In another twist, Troup County Probate Judge Donald Boyd, who has had charge of the case since April 1, voluntarily recused himself.
Kirby told WorldNetDaily that Boyd gave no reason for his decision.
“There was no hearing,” Kirby said, “But I talked to the granddaughter’s attorney [Danny Daniel], and they have agreed to let my people visit without restriction with Mrs. Magouirk while she’s in the hospital, and they have agreed to allow my people to have access to information from the doctors regarding medical care and treatment.”
Kirby said that at first, they “allowed visitation of 30 minutes a day, and I told him we appreciated the gesture and we would observe our 30 minutes a day, but we still intended to go forward to ask the judge to give us more than that.”
After further discussions today, he continued, “they decided not to place any restrictions on visitation.”
Kirby added he would not pursue the “show cause” matter, if what he’d been told on the telephone is formalized in a court order.
Although McLeod and Ruth Mullinax have visitation privileges, Ken Mullinax does not.
Kirby said that has not been worked out yet.
“My immediate concern was for my two clients, the brother and sister of Mrs. Magouirk,” he said.
Kirby said he did not think there would be any restrictions in the long term and hopes the family dispute is near an end.
“I think this family is interested in healing their differences, and I think they’d like to stop airing them publicly and get back to being a family,” he said.