Marlise Munoz is, as she has been for the past two months, in a Fort Worth hospital bed, being kept alive by machines. A Tarrant County judge could decide tomorrow whether she is legally dead, thus allowing her family to pull the plug as they all agree she would have wanted, or if she still retains a sufficient flicker of brain activity that "life-sustaining treatment" will have to continue until her child is no longer in her womb.
And what of the child? When Munoz was first taken to JPS Hospital just before Thanksgiving, she was 14 weeks pregnant -- far enough along for doctors to detect a heartbeat but too soon to determine much else.
Now, at 22 weeks, they're able to get a better picture. According to a statement released Wednesday by attorneys for the Munoz family, it's not pretty.
The fetus, they write, "is extremely abnormal."
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Even at this early stage, the lower extremities are deformed to the extent that the gender cannot be determined. The fetus suffers from hydrocephalus. It also appears that there are further abnormalities, including a possible heart problem, that cannot be specifically determined due to the immobile nature of Mrs. Munoz's deceased body.
Quite sadly, this information is not surprising due to the fact that the fetus, after being deprived of oxygen for an indeterminate length of time, is gestating within a dead and deteriorating body, as a horrified family looks on in absolute anguish, distress and sadness.
JPS hasn't commented on the status of Munoz or the fetus. The county-owned hospital is being represented by the Tarrant County District Attorney's Office in the Munoz family's bid to remove her from life support.
Send your story tips to the author, Eric Nicholson.