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Judge to Rule on Wife’s Request to Remove Maryland Man’s Feeding Tube

by | Nov 1, 2011

By Dave Andrusko

When last we wrote about 55-year-old Daniel Sanger he had just been saved from death by starvation and dehydration. A Temporary Restraining Order from Frederick County Circuit Judge Theresa Adams instructed Frederick Memorial Hospital to provide life-sustaining nutrition to Sanger until the completion of a trial set to begin tomorrow before a Frederick County Circuit Court judge.

The fight is between Sanger’s wife, who wishes his feeding tube withdrawn, and his brother and mother, who wish it maintained and legal guardianship transferred to them.

As is so often the case in these legal battles, it is Sanger’s condition following a heart attack and seizure, and statements the patient is said to have made, that are in dispute.

Leta Sanger told the Frederick News-Post that prior to the heart attack her husband had told her many times “he would not want to be kept alive by invasive means,” and that currently, “He can barely put two words together.”

However, the picture painted by Sanger’s brother, Mark, is dramatically different. While he agrees Daniel lost much of his speaking ability and mobility after the July heart attack, Mark Sanger told the Associated Press (AP) “that his brother can comprehend speech and swallow soft food but not enough to keep him alive.” Mark Sanger said his brother also “has an infected bed sore on his back that is life-threatening because it’s not being treated,” according to the AP

“At the nursing home, Daniel was speaking short phrases, eating solid food and standing up on his own before his health declined due to complications from the bed sore,” Mark Sanger told the AP. Mark Sanger and their mother, Phyllis Sanger, say that Daniel Sanger told them he wanted to live after being moved from a nursing home to Frederick Memorial Hospital

Under Maryland law, because Daniel Sanger did not appoint a decision-maker or makes his wishes known in a legal document, Leta Sanger can make her husband’s medical decisions.

Mark Sanger and Phyllis Sanger assert that Leta Sanger “is mentally unfit to direct her husband’s medical care,” according to the AP. “But at a court hearing Thursday, a judge said they could not obtain Motor Vehicle Administration records they claim would support that argument.”

Daniel Sanger went without food and hydration for six days. On October 16 Leta Sanger “consented to have her husband’s feeding tube removed,” according to the AP. Mark Sanger and Phyllis Sanger subsequently got a temporary court order to have it reinserted. 

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Categories: Euthanasia