Shot in the Dark and Bogus Gold have posts today about another feeding tube that’s been pulled. If that sounds familiar – please note that the woman in this case, 81-year-old Mae Magouirk, is not considered terminal, is not in a persistent vegetative state or comatose, AND has a living will that says she does not want to be starved and dehydrated if she is not in such a condition.
85 year-old Mae Magourik (note: I’ve confirmed through other sources that the correct spelling of the last name is Magouirk. NW) of LaGrange, Georgia, is currently being deprived of nutrition and hydration at the request of her granddaughter, Beth Gaddy. Mrs. Margourik suffered an aortic dissection 2 weeks ago and was hospitalized. Though her doctors have said that she is not terminally ill, Ms. Gaddy declared that she held medical power of attorney for Mae, and had her transferred to the LaGrange Hospice. Later investigation revealed that Ms. Gaddy did not in fact have such power of attorney. Furthermore, Mae’s Living Will provides that nutrition and hydration are to be withheld only if she is comatose or vegetative. Mae is in neither condition. Neither is her condition terminal.
Furthermore, under Georgia law, if there is no power of attorney specifying a health care decisionmaker, such authority is given to the closest living relatives. Mae’s brother, A. B. McLeod, and sister, Lonnie Ruth Mullinax, are both still alive and capable of making such decisions. They opposed Mae’s transfer to hospice, and are fighting to save her life. But in spite of the lack of a power of attorney, and the fact that there are closer living relatives who should be given precedence by Georgia law, Ms. Gaddy sought an emergency appointment as guardian from the local probate court. The probate judge, Donald Boyd (who, I am told, is not an attorney and does not have a law degree), granted Gaddy’s request, thereby giving her the power to starve and dehydrate Margourik to death, though such an action is contrary to the provisions of the living will.
By the way, the thought crossed my mind that this might be a kind of urban legend “leaked” to get the blogosphere stoked in an effort to discredit blogging. I checked back through the many threads in different blogs on this story and found most of it was one blog repeating what another blog said (like what I did with Shot in the Dark and Bogus Gold). Since the case takes place in Georgia, I looked up the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and didn’t find any mention of the story. The April 8 issue of the LaGrange News – the local newspaper in the city where Mae Magouirk’s hospice is located – does feature the following (read the entire story):
Woman, 81, at center of feeding tube feud
Kenneth Mullinax, the patient’s nephew in Birmingham, Ala., said a hospice nurse told him that Magouirk had not received substantial nourishment since March 28. He wants a temporary feeding tube inserted until she can be evaluated for treatment at the University of Alabama Medical Center. A living will states that nourishment should be withheld only if she were in a coma or vegetative state with no hope of recovery.
Mullinax and the patient’s brother and sister – Lonnie Ruth Mullinax of Birmingham and A.B. McLeod of Anniston, Ala. – came here last Friday to arrange for a feeding tube and take her to the Birmingham hospital. That same day Gaddy received emergency guardianship in Troup County Probate Court.
At a follow-up hearing Monday, the parties reached a settlement that awarded guardianship to Gaddy provided three cardiologists – James Brennan and Thomas Gore, both of LaGrange, and Raed Aquel of Birmingham – evaluate the patient, who would receive whatever treatment two of the three recommended. A final decision had not yet been reached.
“They were all hugging necks when they left court,” said Probate Judge Donald Boyd. “I don’t know what happened.”
Boyd said Gaddy testified at the hearing that she feeds her grandmother Jello, chips of ice and “anything else she’d be willing to eat”
“I think all of Mrs. Magouirk’s family has her genuine best interests at heart, but unfortunately they disagree on what they believe would be best for her,” said Jack Kirby of LaGrange, attorney for the patient’s brother and sister.
“She (Gaddy) said, ‘I think it’s time she (her grandmother) goes home to Jesus, that’s she’s too sick and would not have a good quality of life,” Kenneth Mullinax said.