Friday, April 08, 2005
It's easier the second time: If the facts of the case are as presented here, and I have no reason to believe they are not, then I just went from calm to very angry.
In a situation recalling the recent death of Terri Schiavo in Florida, an 81-year-old widow, denied nourishment and fluids for nearly two weeks, is clinging to life in a hospice in LaGrange, Ga., while her immediate family fights desperately to save her life before she dies of starvation and dehydration.
Mae Magouirk was neither terminally ill, comatose nor in a "vegetative state," when Hospice-LaGrange accepted her as a patient about two weeks ago upon the request of her granddaughter, Beth Gaddy, 36, an elementary school teacher.
Also upon Gaddy's request and without prior legal authority, since March 28 Hospice-LaGrange has denied Magouirk normal nourishment or fluids via a feeding tube through her nose or fluids via an IV. She has been kept sedated with morphine and ativan, a powerful tranquillizer.
Her nephew, Ken Mullinax, told WorldNetDaily that although Magouirk is given morphine and ativan, she has not received any medication to keep her eyes lubricated during her forced dehydration.
"They haven't given her anything like that for two weeks," said Mullinax. "She can't produce tears."
The dehydration is being done in defiance of Magouirk's specific wishes, which she set down in a "living will," and without agreement of her closest living next-of-kin, two siblings and a nephew: A. Byron McLeod, 64, of Anniston, Ga.; Ruth Mullinax, 74, of Birmingham, Ala.; and Ruth Mullinax's son, Ken Mullinax.
Magouirk's husband and only child, a son, are both deceased.
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.
The woman's granddaughter, who has a financial power of attorney, not a medical one -- and is the sole beneficiary of Magouirk's estate -- is the one doing this.
Magouirk lives alone in LaGrange, though because of glaucoma she relied on her granddaughter, Beth Gaddy, to bring her food and do errands.
Two weeks ago, Magouirk's aorta had a dissection, and she was hospitalized in the local LaGrange Hospital. Her aortic problem was determined to be severe, and she was admitted to the intensive care unit. At the time of her admission she was lucid and had never been diagnosed with dementia.
Claiming that she held Magouirk's power of attorney, Gaddy had her transferred to Hospice-LaGrange, a 16-bed unit owned by the same family that owns the hospital. Once at the hospice, Gaddy stated that she did not want her grandmother fed or given water.
"Grandmama is old and I think it is time she went home to Jesus," Gaddy told Magouirk's brother and nephew, McLeod and Ken Mullinax. "She has glaucoma and now this heart problem, and who would want to live with disabilities like these?"
Gaddy's telephone is not in operation and she could not be reached for comment.
According to Mullinax, his aunt's local cardiologist in LaGrange, Dr. James Brennan, and Dr. Raed Agel, a highly acclaimed cardiologist at the nationally renowned University of Alabama-Birmingham Medical Center, determined that her aortic dissection is contained and not life-threatening at the moment.
Mullinax also has a not-so-encouraging update on the case here, pointing out that the "judge" in this case is not a lawyer (probate judges don't need a law degree) and he's also in no hurry to hear opposing views.
And we're supposed to respect the courts? The state of Georgia shouldn't step in and right this wrong because a probate judge without a law degree decides that it's OK that this old woman should be starved and dehydrated to death?
You'd almost have to laugh at this if it didn't mean that someone is going to die because of this.
On a related note: The idea that the American public opposed Congress' action in the Terri Schiavo case and supported pulling her feeding tube isn't completely justified. A Zogby poll, which didn't use inaccurate characterizations of Schiavo's condition came up with quite different results.