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Brain-dead pregnant woman's husband named fetus before life support removed

Tim Sharp / AP

Marlise Munoz' husband Erick attending a court in Fort Worth, Texas, on Friday.

Aware that he would never get to meet her, the husband of a pregnant, brain-dead woman nonetheless named their unborn child before his wife was taken off life support Sunday.

Nicole was the name chosen by Erick Munoz for the 23-week-old fetus that would have been his second child with wife Marlise, he told the Associated Press. Their first child, Mateo, is 15-months-old.

"They think it was a female," Munoz added, saying that doctors at the John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth had indicated to him that the fetus would likely have been a girl, although his attorneys previously said the unborn baby suffered from lower body deformation that made it impossible to determine a gender. 

Marlise Munoz was 14 weeks pregnant when she was rushed to hospital after suffering what her husband believes was a pulmonary embolism.

Both the hospital, which initially refused to disconnect Marlise, and Erick’s attorneys, agreed the fetus could not have been born alive that early in the pregnancy.  

Courtesy Kathy Chruscielski / KC Studios

Erick and Marlise Munoz hold their son Mateo.

Texas law that says life-sustaining treatment cannot be withdrawn or withheld from a pregnant patient, despite a "do not resuscitate" request from the patient or a request from the family and the hospital declined to remove life support. 

Erick Munoz and his wife both worked as paramedics and were familiar with end-of-life issues and he insisted both were clear that they did not want to be kept alive by machines in this type of situation as he battled the hospital’s decision in court.

On Friday, Tarrant County District Judge R.H. Wallace gave the hospital until 5 p.m. ET on Monday to disconnect Munoz, 33, from her ventilator, which they complied with yesterday. 

Her body was released to her husband Erick, a statement from the family attorneys said Sunday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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