Jesse Ramirez Wakes From Coma as Terri Schiavo-Type Battle Rages

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jun 28, 2007   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Jesse Ramirez Wakes From Coma as Terri Schiavo-Type Battle Rages Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
June 28
, 2007

Phoenix, AZ ( — Arizona resident Jesse Ramirez was severely injured in a car crash in a May 30 car accident and a legal battle ensued over the man’s life. It pitted his wife and family against each other over whether his life support should be maintained but now Ramirez has awaken from the coma appears to be on the road to recovery.

Ramirez, 36, suffered traumatic brain injury in the accident and he had been in a minimally conscious state for just over a week when doctors told his family he may never recover.

His wife made the decision to have his feeding tube removed in the same way Terri’s former husband made the decision for her.

Ramirez, a Gulf War veteran, and his wife had been arguing in the car over a cell phone number of another man that Ramirez found in her cell phone when the rollover happened.

Ramirez’s family filed legal papers asking for his feeding tube to be reconnected with the help of the Alliance Defense Fund, a pro-life law firm.

Maricopa County Superior court Judge Paul Katz on June 13 ordered that Ramirez be put back on life support and assigned a guardian ad litem as his advocate while the legal arguments were sorted out.

Ramirez’s wife responded by petitioning the court again asking to remove him from life support.

Now, three weeks after the accident, Ramirez has regained consciousness and recovered to the extent that he can interact with visitors.

The case is drawing national attention to the plight of such patients, whose loved ones are sometimes too quick to join doctors in giving up hope and withdrawing food and water or lifesaving medical treatment.

Pro-life attorney Rachel Alexander has been monitoring the case.

"This miraculous recovery reinforces the importance of using caution when taking incapacitated relatives off life support," she said. "In too many cases, it is impossible to determine when or if someone in a coma will come out of it."

"Had Jesse been removed from life support on June 9 as his wife requested, he would have been dead within a few days of starvation and dehydration," Alexander added.

The case points to concerns over family members who may have other agendas or something other than the best interest of the patient in mind when making the medical decisions.

"Because of their tumultuous marriage, his wife was not in the best position to make a determination as to whether he should continue on life support," Alexander said. "His aunt has said that she suspects his wife was trying to get rid of him. Ramirez had long suspected that his wife was having extramarital affairs on him."

Bobby Schindler, Terri’s brother who also works with the foundation that bears her name, said the medical establishment is also too quick to declare patients hopeless in certain cases.

"What is the rush?" he told the Arizona Republic newspaper. "This is not the first time we’ve heard of cases like this where doctors want to write off the chance of recovery, and the family, when they’re told this, will make a decision to end a person’s life."

"In the case of Mr. Ramirez, he’d be dead now."