April 23, 2005
The Latest on Clara MartinezTopics: News
That was how Salvador Martínez reacted to the forces unleashed by La Raza, which in 24 hours had obligated him to change his decision to suspend feeding for his wife Clara. After 30 days he authorized reconnecting the feeding tube. The women who the physicians had declared beyond hope is now receiving food and water, while her future is being discussed at the family level.
The impact of the information published on the front page last week and on La Raza Online was felt immediately. The situation of this 39-year-old Mexican woman who a year and a half ago suffered the debilitating consequences of a stroke has shaken Chicago's Latin community and had repercussions throughout the US.
Because of its similarity to the situation of the American Terri Schiavo, pro-life and anti-euthanasia groups were immediately alerted by Internet. The information from La Raza was also picked up by other press media in the city and within 24 hours several of them had echoed it with a wide emphasis. By Friday night it was already publicly known that this mother of two children aged five and seven years had gone for 30 days without food, and the next day she was reconnected to the feeding tube.
Her husband, with a medical report that the case was irreversible, had signed a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) order and ordered feeding withheld. The woman survived through all those days with only water.
However, although the physicians had disconnected the feeding machine, they left the feeding tube in place for the case that the husband were to change his mind. The DNR was hung in full sight of everybody at the head of the bed.
According to Pastor Guillermo Espinoza of the Hispanic Evangelical Church, who serves as chaplain at an area hospital and became aware of Clara's case while she was interned in a nursing home, Salvador Martínez always maintained that his wife would not want to go on living under these conditions.
However, there is nothing in writing to document this wish. Clara's mother, Gregoria Ruano, and other relatives were against the decision of Salvador, who has been acting as his wife's legal guardian.
"All that the husband said was, 'I don't believe she would want to live under these conditions,'" Espinoza told La Raza. "Thank God, he has reconsidered and now he is getting together with the family to discuss the issue," he added.
"Back to life"
Clara and her husband live with her mother and the two children in a house on the city's southwest. Salvador works the night shift. The patient is cared for by her mother, an aunt and a nurse.
Last Sunday at three in the afternoon, some 40 people got together in front of the house for a vigil, praying and singing hymns. Inside several of Clara's relatives had gathered in a kind of "conclave".
The day before the house had been visited by a Human Services inspector, concerned by the news that there was a woman there who was dying of starvation. Following this visit, Clara's feeding was resumed, although sources in government explained that no official action had been taken
Outside, Pastor Espinosa showed his joy at Clara's coming back to life, to the cheers from followers of his church.
Shortly before, some of Clara's relatives had tried to dissuade him from the vigil, sticking to their decision to keep the matter away from public scrutiny. They later observed from a distance without interfering.
Salvador Martínez and the rest of the family has avoided speaking to reporters. According to what Pastor Espinoza told La Raza, "There is still some resentment, but what is important is that Clara is well and the family has come together to discuss her future."
Gregoria Ruano revealed that they have not decided what steps to take, and that she personally worries about the wellbeing of her grandchildren, who go to school and are in contact with other children of their age.
"Do Not Resuscitate or Do Not Feed"
Earl Appleby, Director of Citizens United Resisting Euthanasia (CURE), has offered legal support to Clara's family in the event that they decide to take the case to court. "May God bless Pastor Espinoza for raising his voice in defense of Clara Martínez," he wrote in a statement published on the group's Internet page.
There he explains the meaning of the "Do Not Resuscitate" order given to physicians to not attempt to revive a person suffering cardiac or respiratory arrest. This order must come from the person or legal guardian and is signed when physicians come to the conclusion that artificial resuscitation will not affect the final outcome of an illness.
The DNR came into use in the US in the 60's with the appearance of the defibrillator allowed reversing a cardiac arrest, extending the patient's life.
However, CURE and other pro-life groups point out that even though the Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) order avoids inserting tubes or applying cardiopulmonary apparatus, it does not apply to intravenous provision of feeding, fluids or pain medication.
"DNR does not mean Do Not Feed nor does it justify starvation," they maintain as basis for their claim that Clara must be legally protected and not treated as a body in a vegetative state.
Depending on the family of Clara Martínez, the case might have legal consequences as happened with Terri Schiavo.
The latter was disconnected on March 18 from her feeding tube by court order and died fourteen days later, after a lengthy court and legislative battle between her husband and her family.
Posted by tim at April 23, 2005 12:58 AM
Articles Related to News: