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March 31, 2005

Donna M. Matincheck's guardian withdraws a petition to end life-sustaining treatment. The brain-damaged woman's mother had opposed the petition.

Topics: News

Has Terri already affected the saving of another woman's life?

- ReadingEagle(not archived) via email from reader Anne.
A petition to remove the feeding tube of a severely brain damaged Berks County woman has been withdrawn, ending a legal battle over the woman's fate, those close to the case said Wednesday.

Donna M. Matincheck, 44, will continue to receive life-sustaining treatment at the Mifflin Center in Cumru Township, where she resides.

Matincheck, formerly of Reading, has been in a persistent vegetative state since 1982, when she suffered an apparent aneurysm while delivering her first child.

Her guardian and former mother-in-law, Joan L. Matincheck of Elizabethtown, Lancaster County, had been seeking to have the tube removed but withdrew that request in paperwork filed Monday in Berks County Court.

Donna Matincheck's mother, Margaret "Peggy" R. Younkin, of Lee Center, N.Y., had objected to the petition, saying she wanted her daughter kept alive.

A hearing was set for Friday but has been canceled.

Younkin and other relatives were surprised and relieved when they heard that news Tuesday night, she said.

"I sat down and cried," she said. "I couldn't believe it."

"We're very pleased that this has come to a civil conclusion," said Donna Matincheck's brother, Dan M. Younkin, of Rome, N.Y. "We had a lot of anxiety. We're very thankful to her (Joan) for ending this."

Though her daughter is bedridden and unable to communicate, Peggy Younkin has said she thinks she has some awareness. She also is hopeful her daughter's condition will improve somewhat.

Dr. David W. Christensen of Birdsboro, Donna Matincheck's physician, has said she has no brain function and is unlikely to improve.

The Terri Schiavo case shows the difficulty family members can have when considering the removal of life-sustaining equipment, said Peggy Younkin's attorney, Jill M. Scheidt of Wyomissing.

"So I'm very pleased we don't have to litigate this," Scheidt said. "That would have been very hard on everyone involved."

While there have been cases in Pennsylvania involving the removal of feeding tubes, there are no laws involving cases where there is a disagreement among family members, Scheidt said.

"I have no idea what the outcome would have been," she said.

Peggy Younkin also had asked to be named guardian of her daughter, and would have moved her to a facility in New York.

Joan Matincheck's action did not deal with the issue of guardianship, and Peggy Younkin said she would continue to seek custody of her daughter.

"Keeping her alive was my main concern, but I also want her here," Peggy Younkin said. "I'll fight to get guardianship."

Attorney Eugene Orlando Jr., a Reading attorney who was helping Scheidt represent Peggy Younkin, said he was happy the petition was withdrawn.

Joan Matincheck did not want to discuss the case publicly, according to her attorney, David S. Sobotka of Reading, who also declined comment.

The following also were unavailable or declined comment:

Thomas M. Binder, the Reading attorney appointed to represent Donna Matincheck.

Lee Matincheck of Elizabethtown, Donna Matincheck's son, whom she was delivering when she fell into a vegetative state.

Andrew Matincheck, address unknown, Donna Matincheck's ex-husband who divorced her sometime in the 1980s.

Contact reporter Mike Urban at 610-371-5023 or murban@readingeagle.com

Posted by richard at March 31, 2005 11:05 AM


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Elizabethtown, PA is where Kim Hassinger lives with her parents. Kim's sister Karrie wrote in blogsforterri how Kim was diagnosed as PVS but their parents did not accept this diagnosis. Kim is now at home, continuing rehabilitation that began 12 years ago, able to talk.

I am thinking that maybe Peggy Younkin might want to get in touch with the Hassingers who would probably be happy to share information on resources they have used during Kim's rehabilitation, from the nursing home that provided aggressive therapies to the various types of therapies involved.

If anyone is reading this who is in touch with Peggy Youngin, they should pass on this suggestion to get in touch with the Hassingers.

Posted by: Rae Stabosz at March 31, 2005 11:40 AM

"While there have been cases in Pennsylvania involving the removal of feeding tubes, there are no laws involving cases where there is a disagreement among family members, Scheidt said."

We need to let our state legislatures know that we want specific laws that deal with this issue; laws that are pro-life, especially if there is any doubt or dispute.

Posted by: marie at March 31, 2005 2:35 PM

I cannot believe that Michael "Hitler" Schiavo refused to allow Terri's loving parents to be with their daughter as she took her last breath! What a sadistic, evil, person he is, that is if we can even call him a person. He is sub-human to be so selfish and evil. I believe that he has something to hide and is a murderer, plain and simple, with many accomplices!

Michael "Hitler" Schiavo will have to answer to his murderous ways on judgment day.

I pray that the truth will come out for once and for all and they all get what they deserve!

Rest in Peace Terri Schindler!!!

Posted by: Outraged at March 31, 2005 5:29 PM

God bless the mother in law here for making the right decision. This is what should have happened in Terri's case all along. In situations where a family member is willing to take care of someone, I really believe there is no harm in letting the person live. I understand ifa Guardian has no hope, but if the woman's own mother does, let her live.

Posted by: MikeKS at March 31, 2005 9:22 PM