Culture of LifeThu May 12, 2011 - 5:52 pm EST
‘Brain dead’ woman recovers after husband refuses to withdraw life support
NORTHERN TERRITORY, Australia, May 12, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) - An Australian woman who was declared “brain dead” regained consciousness after weeks of fighting doctor recommendations that her ventilator be shut off, according to a report in the Northern Territory News yesterday.
Fifty-six-year-old Gloria Cruz was rushed to Royal Darwin Hospital in the Northern Territory of Australia on March 7, after having a stroke in her sleep.
When a CAT scan revealed that Cruz was most likely suffering from a brain tumor, she underwent surgery in what initially appeared to be an unsuccessful attempt to save her life.
“The moment I saw my wife in the ICU I thought I’d collapse,” Gloria’s husband, Tani Cruz said, according to Northern Territory News. “I couldn’t believe that I was looking at the woman I have loved for 27 years. She was not my wife. Her face was swollen. Her hair was gone. Tubes were inserted in her mouth. There was a tube in the top of her head. Another in her hands. And she was lying almost lifelessly.”
Doctors told Mr. Cruz that his wife would die within 48 hours, calling her situation “hopeless.” They recommended that the ventilator that was keeping her breathing be removed.
While Cruz stalled the decision, he was contacted by a social worker and a “patient advocate” who urged him to remove the ventilator and allow his wife to die.
“I told him that God knows how much I love her - that I don’t want her to suffer but I don’t want her to leave us,” Cruz said. “I’m a Catholic – I believe in miracles.”
After two weeks, he allowed them to shut off the ventilator, but insisted that a breathing tube be inserted in her mouth so that she could continue breathing on her own.
Three days later, Gloria Cruz defied the medical experts and woke from her coma. According to her husband, she is now alert, mobile, and on her way to recovery.
“We have a strong faith and always believed that God would help us,” said Cruz.
An increasing number of experts have begun calling into question the “brain death” criteria for determining death. They argue that brain death is an arbitrary set of criteria developed largely to ensure the usability of organs harvested from such patients, as well as to decrease the medical costs involved in keeping “brain dead” patients alive on life support.
A number of incidents have seemed to confirm this view, including one particularly chilling case in which a young man declared “brain dead” actually heard doctors discussing harvesting his organs. Minutes before being wheeled into the operating room to have his organs removed, he woke up.