Huelva – Authorities in the southern Spanish region of Andalusia have forced a hospital to remove a feeding tube from a comatose patient at the request of her family and in accordance with the regional death with dignity law, officials told Efe.
Ramona Estevez has been in a coma since July 26.
As Madrid daily El Pais reported Wednesday, the patient's son, Jose Ramon Paez, requested that the hospital withdraw the feeding tube medical personnel had inserted on Aug. 4 saying that "they have turned her into a machine."
The insertion of the feeding tube goes against the wishes the patient expressed in her last days of consciousness, and thus her son decided, with the help of the Right to Die with Dignity Association, to file a complaint with the regional Health Advisory authorities and the hospital, after which the Andalusian government responded by obligating the doctors to remove the tube.
Estevez entered the public Juan Ramon Jimenez hospital in Huelva on July 26, where doctors, after performing a number of tests that registered no brain activity, refused to intubate her.
She was transferred to Blanca Paloma hospital where doctors at that institution opted to insert the feeding tube as a necessary measure to keep her properly fed, telling the family that failing to do so would expose them to potential criminal liability.
Jose Ramon Paez said Wednesday that he feels "content" with the application of a regulation that "must be respected."
In remarks to Efe, Paez said that his mother, although she had not made a will, had said that in the case of a situation like this "she did not want to have a (feeding) tube put in."
Andalusia's death with dignity law, which has been in effect since March 2010 and is the first of its kind in Spain, governs the rights of patients during the last phase of their lives and the obligations of the doctors treating them.
The law regulates the limitation of therapeutic efforts, in particular withdrawing or not initiating treatment in patients with no possibility of recovery, and it prohibits prolonging life "uselessly."
In Spain, euthanasia and assisting suicide are crimes punishable by up to six years in prison.
The bill on death with dignity that the Spanish government approved on June 10 will not be able to be taken up in Parliament over the coming several months due to the decision to hold early general elections in November.