A man hospitalized in Sweden after suffering a stroke has filed a complaint against the doctors who treated him because they said they believed he was going to die and started discussing plans to transplant his organs.
In his hospital room. While he could hear them.
The case brings to mind several disputes in the United States over the fate of incapacitated persons.
Probably best known is the story of Terri Schiavo, about whom WND published hundreds of stories between the time of her mysterious incapacitation at age 26 and her death, at age 41, after hospital officials withheld food and water.
Her fight for life prompted the creation of Terri Schiavo Life & Hope Network, which has taken on the fight for several other incapacitated patients.
Bobby Schindler, Terri Schiavo’s brother, said about a recent case: “People need to realize that ethics boards, hospital boards have been making decisions [about treatments] we’re receiving or not receiving. It will be worse with government-controlled health care. They’re taking medical decisions out of the family’s hands and putting it into the hands of bean counters.”
He was commenting on the case of teenager Jahi McMath, who was undergoing a tonsillectomy at a California hospital when things went horribly wrong. Doctors soon declared her brain-dead and, but for the efforts of her parents, would have shut off her ventilator.
Eventually she was transferred to a long-term care facility.
The Local reports that Fritze’s case happened several years ago, but he just now is bringing a complaint.
In his case, the report said, he suffered a stroke while sightseeing with family, and it took several hours for him to reach the hospital.
Physicians looked at a brain scan and concluded it was “bad news.”
“They told my girlfriend that there was no hope,” he told the news agency.
However, his eyes and ears were working, and he was conscious.
The doctors, with his family present in his room, “brought up the question of organ donation” even though physicians in Sweden are not supposed to do that until after a diagnosis of brain death, the report said.
For Fritze, a second opinion was required, and it took several days before another doctor returned from vacation.
“She looked at my scans and said ‘This doesn’t look too bad’ and told the staff to give me cortisone to bring down the swelling in my brain,” Fritze told the news agency. “But even so, my girlfriend and my sister had to fight with the night nurse to give me cortisone, and this was just one day before they had said they would make a final ‘chance of survival’ assessment.”
It was several weeks before he could communicate, and now he still struggles with his speech, the report said.
He said the complaint was filed now because he had felt too unwell to take on the task earlier, and a recent report on the news prompted him to act.
“It was about a Danish woman. They took her off life support, but then she survived,” he told The Local. “But there was some boss or another from the Swedish National Health and Welfare Board who said on the TV news that ‘this would never happen in Sweden.’”
WND also has reported on a case in Texas.
There, a federal judge has issued an order that food, water and treatment must be continued for up to 60 days for a heart attack victim whose estranged wife had ordered the hospital to discontinue those programs.
“Everyone deserves a chance to recover from an injury, and the extension the judge issued today will allow that to happen,” said Alliance Defending Freedom allied attorney Greg Terra, president of Texas Center for Defense of Life. “A handful of days is much too soon to remove life-sustaining treatment. We will continue to monitor the situation in the hope that Terry will recover and walk out of the hospital.”
The case of Terry Andrew Mace, 43, already reprises in part the story of Terri Schiavo. According to the court’s decision, Mace’s father, Terry Allen Mace, was appointed guardian “to protect the proposed ward and the proposed ward’s estate.”
The decision by Judge John B. McMaster said the temporary arrangement can last as long as 60 days, and he also said a special attorney will continue to represent the incapacitated man’s interests.
Mace suffered a heart attack March 6 and was hospitalized in Round Rock, Texas. Then on March 22, Mace’s wife, from whom had had been separated for several years, ordered the hospital to remove all life-sustaining treatment even though he was not brain dead, according to ADF.
The two were in the midst of divorce, and they had been separated for five years.
Mace, who lives in central Texas, started having seizures and then suffered a heart attack. An ambulance transported Mace to Seton Medical Center in Round Rock, where doctors evaluated him and provided him with life-sustaining treatment, which consisted of a ventilator and feeding tube.
ADF said Mace’s wife, who lived separate from him in Colorado, then arrived in Texas and gave the hospital orders to remove the treatment.
After the life-sustaining treatments were discontinued, according to ADF, he was breathing on his own, his heart was recovering and evidence suggested he was making faces.
“Having a disability shouldn’t be a death sentence,” said ADF Litigation Counsel Catherine Glenn Foster. “The court order gives Terry the chance he needs to recover, which is all his parents were asking for.”
ADF intervened on behalf of Jesse Ramirez in 2007, obtaining an order to restore food and water to the Gulf War veteran after he suffered multiple injuries in a car accident. Food and water had been withheld soon after his hospitalization.
However, Ramirez ultimately recovered and walked out of the hospital.