Victim's family fights to change law regarding end-of-life decisions

Three days after a brutal attack left Maria Vera with severe brain damage, about two dozen of her relatives gathered in the hospital to say their goodbyes.
Annie Zelm
Jun 26, 2011

 

Three days after a brutal attack left Maria Vera with severe brain damage, about two dozen of her relatives gathered in the hospital to say their goodbyes.

They knew the once-vibrant 22-year-old would never recover, but they felt a sense of comfort knowing her organs could potentially save others.

But Maria's husband, Jeremy Gallant -- accused of attacking her -- was still considered her legal guardian and had the final say in whether to remove her from life support.

Doing so would almost certainly mean Gallant would face murder charges. In the eight days that followed, the family lingered in a vigilant state of limbo, searching for a miracle. But Maria's body continued to deteriorate. Ultimately, doctors could no longer use her organs.

Read more in today's Register or e-paper

Comments

Minuteman

This is a perfect example of a case where a judge should have made a decision. We are not restricted by laws in these instances where they are used against the good of the citizenry. This is why we select judges and give them their powers. Politics shouldn't play a role, common sense should. I wonder if this was pursued in this case.

SamAdams

Unfortunately, the law doesn't take into consideration the "exception to the rule." I hope that this tragedy will promote some changes in the law not least of which should be some kind of a "default" guardianship should the primary person be incapacitated in ANY way. The law is already set up to consider death in the event the decision-maker predeceases the dying patient. Why not incarceration and the like?

The opposite end of the spectrum must also be considered. There are those who definitively DON'T want certain family members making any decisions for them. I'm one of them (for some inexplicable reason, the persons who would usually decide medical things on my behalf are vehemently opposed to organ donation and would keep me in a coma on machinery forever and always if they got their way). That's why I not only have a living will, but have set up a medical power of attorney giving someone that I do TRUST the authority to make those decisions. (In this case, a valid living will alone would have gone a long way toward resolving the issue.)

You can get information off the Internet easily enough, and a lot of the forms for living wills and so on are free. You have to follow instructions, obviously, but simply not having an attorney (or not being able to afford one) is no excuse. I realize that most people—especially the relatively young—don't really think they're going to die tomorrow, but you COULD be in a car accident or you COULD be assaulted at any time and at any age. While I don't PLAN on those things happening, it's foolish to plan on them NOT happening!

I'm so sorry for the family of this lovely young woman. While their loss wouldn't have been any less, now they've also lost the small comfort of knowing that she gave life to others even with her own death. The grievous injury the murderer did is now that much the worse. Still, while it's too late to donate any organs, it's NOT too late for Maria's death to save others. I hope the family can find the added strength to make that happen.

grandmasgirl

What a beautiful girl she was, and what a shame that her organs couldn't be used. I know people who have had transplants and are living good lifes thanks to others generosity.

yea right

way to many laws i think we need to "push the reset button" and then get the right laws into place..not the ones that protect the GREEDY..

44846GWP

A judge should have ruled in favor of the family, and to he-l with the husband.

2sense

anyone who would attack like that should not be given the right to decide.  hang him

Gardenman

What and unusual situation. I am sure that some changed legislation will come from this but its really one of those situations most never think of. I am glad the SR brought this to the public eye. I hope that other news agencies do the same for its needs to be known to the masses.

Its hard to imagine the brutality of her husband and maybe that will be just the defense that will be sused.....he knew not what he did. He will spend the rest of his life living life in a jail cell but at least he will be removed from society. 

I hope the family of this wonderful woman know that so many of us in the community have them in our prayers. Its a tragic situation that no family should ever have to endure. Our hearts go out to her family and friends.

 

eagle1

As a member of the Vera family, thank you for your positive comments.  PLEASE when you see this petition come around to change this law, sign it and encourage others to do the same.  No family should have to go through what we did, waiting for a murderer to give us the right to remove Maria from life support.  Maria should have never had to go through this, the attack was absolutely brutal and her husband doesn't deserve lethal injection, he should feel the pain like he inflicted on our sweet Maria. Her two small children now have to grow up without knowing either parent. 

 

Northstar

So sad for the family and the people her organs could have helped...I cannot wait to sign the petition...Prayers go out to the family.  To all others who live with this potential fear, change your DNR and Living Will immediately as I did after this occurred.  The local justice system should start stepping into and up to these matters and not avoiding them, it may have never happened and these children may have had their mother.

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