Pregnant woman kept on life support against husband’s wishes

A man reportedly is fighting a Texas law to get his pregnant wife removed from life support, which he says were her wishes before she was declared brain dead.

Texas man Erick Munoz found his wife Marlise unconscious on their living room floor at 2:00 a.m. on Nov. 26, WFAA in Dallas-Fort Worth reports. Munoz, a paramedic, began CPR and called 911, and his wife — also a paramedic — was taken to John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth. She apparently experienced a pulmonary embolism, a potentially fatal blood clot.

“You just never think it’s going to be you,” he told the station.

Marlise was 14 weeks pregnant at the time, so doctors told the family they would provide all life-saving measures to her in order to comply with a rule under the Texas Health and Safety Code.

That rule states, “a person may not withdraw or withhold life-sustaining treatment under this subchapter from a pregnant patient.”

But, Erick says he and his wife had discussed and mutually agreed upon “do not resuscitate” (DNR) orders, though one was never signed. She has not shown brain activity since, and doctors are unsure how long the fetus was without oxygen and nutrients, so it’s unknown whether the fetus is even viable.

“I don’t agree with this law… I don’t,” he said, adding, he doesn’t expect many people to side with him on this.

A hospital spokesperson told CBS News that the facility follows state law.

“Our responsibility at JPS Health Network is to be a good corporate citizen while also providing quality care for our patients,” J.R. Labbe said in an email. “In all cases, JPS will follow the law as it applies to healthcare in the state of Texas. And this specific state law says life-sustaining treatment cannot be withheld or withdrawn from a pregnant patient.”

One bioethicist not involved in the case considers the Texas law both unethical and unconstitutional, arguing it violates individual liberties.

Source: bossip

Could lack of sleep cause a fatal mistake?

Behind the controls of the Metro-North train that derailed in New York earlier this week was a tired driver, according to new reports that engineer William Rockefeller fell asleep at the wheel.

Could lack of sleep cause such a fatal mistake?

Biologically speaking, experts said, yes. Sleep deprivation affects the brain in multiple ways that can impair judgment, slow reaction times and increase the likelihood of drifting off during monotonous tasks.

“When you’re sleep deprived, your brain reverts to a teenager — it’s all gas and no brake,” said Michael Howell, a neurologist at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. “Suddenly the part of the brain that says, ‘Let’s think through this,’ is not functioning well.”
The purpose of sleep has long mystified scientists, said Maiken Nedergaard, a neuroscientist at the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York. In an evolutionary conundrum, lying unconscious for hours on end makes people and other animals vulnerable to predators. Yet, not sleeping for long enough can actually lead to dementia and death. Chronic sleep-deprivation can cause obesity, diabetes, heart disease and other ills.

Studies have shown that exhausted people do worse on tests of memory and have more trouble learning. Tired basketball players sink fewer free throws. Even golfers who fail to get enough shut-eye take more strokes to finish a round.

“Almost everything researchers have looked at,” Howell said, “they’ve demonstrated is impaired if you don’t get enough sleep.”

When it comes to accidents, sleep matters because failure to get enough rest hampers functioning of the brain’s frontal lobes, which are responsible for executive judgment, or the ability to pay attention and make good decisions.

In overtired people, Howell said, imaging studies have shown that there is less blood flow to these areas in the front of the brain and brainwaves there move more slowly.
The result is a compromised ability to respond to things, along with a faulty tendency to do things you shouldn’t have done. When the frontal lobes aren’t working efficiently, people also have more difficulty paying attention during boring tasks, such as driving a car on a highway or operating a morning commuter train.

Early morning hours, like when the Metro-North train crashed, are some of the most vulnerable times for sleepy accidents, Howell said, especially for people whose circadian rhythms favor a later sleeping schedule and make it biologically difficult to function well after waking up with an alarm clock at 5 a.m.

Reports that Rockefeller had been driving for 20 minutes since his last stop and felt zoned out before the accident suggest that he probably fell asleep before the crash, Howell added.

Recently, scientists have begun to piece together an even more nuanced understanding of why sleep is so restorative. In a study published in Science this fall, Nedergaard and colleagues injected mice with a green dye that allowed them to track the movement of cerebrospinal fluid, the liquid that surrounds the brain.

As our brains do their work throughout the day, previous work had shown that cerebrospinal fluid collects the waste products of normal metabolism and functioning. Then, a network of tiny channels works like a dishwasher to regularly flush out the dirty fluid and send it to the liver for detoxification.

The new study found that sleeping facilitated the flushing of this toxic fluid, which was much slower to drain in sleep-deprived rodent brains. Nerve cells are very sensitive to the presence of waste, Nedergaard said. When surrounded by contaminated fluid, communication at the cellular level likely slows down.

Source: mashable