Man Nearly Starved to Death Like Terri Schiavo Now Responsive

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Oct 21, 2011   |   12:01PM   |   Frederick, MD

A 55-year-old Maryland man who became temporarily unconscious after suffering a heart attack and a seizure has been saved from being starved to death like Terri Schiavo after an Alliance Defense Fund-allied attorney obtained an order in state court on behalf of the man’s mother and brother.

The man, Daniel Sanger, is now responding to hospital staff after going six days without food and water.

Although Sanger told his doctor and his mother “I want to live” before he went unconscious, Frederick Memorial Hospital removed the public-assistance patient from life-giving food, water, and nutrients on Friday with the permission of his wife.

“Everyone deserves a chance to recover,” said ADF legal counsel Matt Bowman. “There is no question that Daniel expressly stated his desire to live, and yet he was denied the food and water he needed to survive. His wishes should have been followed. ADF sees far too many situations involving hasty decisions to pull the plug on a human life.”

“The court has done the right thing in granting our request to have Daniel’s food and hydration restored,” said Sanger’s legal counsel Daniel Cox, one of nearly 2,100 attorneys in the ADF alliance. “We are asking the court to award temporary decision-making authority to Daniel’s mother and brother.”

On Wednesday, Cox, who heads The Cox Law Center, LLC, filed a motion in Frederick County Circuit Court Wednesday to force the hospital to resume sending life-giving nutrients to Sanger through his feeding tube. The motion, filed in Sanger v. Rafiq, also requested that Sanger’s mother, Phyllis Sanger, and his brother, Mark Sanger, be awarded temporary custody instead of his wife, Leta Sanger, who went against her husband’s express wishes to remain alive.

Chief Judge Peter Krauser, of the Maryland Court of Special Appeals, responded by issuing an order Wednesday to provide immediate water and nutrition to Sanger pending the outcome of a hearing that was held Thursday. At that hearing, Frederick County Circuit Judge Theresa Adams issued a temporary restraining order instructing Frederick Memorial Hospital to provide life-sustaining nutrition to Sanger until the completion of a trial set for Wednesday at 9 a.m. EDT at the Frederick County Circuit Court at 100 W. Patrick St.

UPDATE:  The family of Terri Schiavo was instrumental in getting help for Sanger.

The Terri Schiavo Life & Hope Network was able to intervene for the man who was on the same path as their sister and who had a heart attack and a seizure and temporarily lost consciousness and was being sustained only by a tube to deliver food and water, which his wife removed by court order last Friday. But, after six days, without food and water, Sanger began responding to hospital staff.

“Unfortunately Mr. Sanger’s case is not unique and many other people who experiences debilitating health problems face similar situations but without the help of skilled legal teams and support networks,” said Bobby Schindler, the co-executive director of the Life & Hope Network. “We have a vast network of physicians and attorneys to help with these kinds of cases.”

The judge in this case, when reinstating the food and water tube, sided with Sanger’s mother and brother instead of his wife, who wanted Sanger to starve and dehydrate to death. Sanger specifically said he wanted to live before he became unconscious. The trial in this case will commence next Wednesday in the Frederick County Circuit Court.

Since the inception of the Life & Hope Network, the Schindlers have been contacted by more than 1,000 families seeking their assistance and support in similar matters such as Terri’s.

“I hope the judge recognizes Mr. Sanger’s desire to live and not allow the hospital or Sanger’s wife to kill him by starvation and dehydration,” said Schindler. “There is no compassion or mercy in such a decision to remove the necessary nutritional elements of food and water.”