A battle over who should make the call to discontinue life support played out Thursday in a Williamson County courtroom. The case involves the parents of a man who was hospitalized earlier this month and his wife who had asked doctors to let him die.
For the past several days doctors and nurses at Seton Medical Center- Round Rock have kept a close watch on 43-year-old Terry Andrew Mace. While the focus there is on his vital signs, Thursday morning in Georgetown at the Williamson County Justice Center, his legal status was the question before Judge John McMaster.
Terry Allen Mace left his son's bedside for the court hearing. Judge McMaster awarded Mace temporary guardianship of his son. Mr. Mace is expected to come back to court, within the next 60 days, to seek permanent guardianship. After the ruling, Thursday, Mr. Mace returned to the hospital - allowing his attorneys to describe what he was feeling.
"Relief, relief. You want the courts to seek justice and justice isn't taking away someone's food and water after they've been injured 20 days with a head injury," said Attorney Stephen Casey.
Terry Andrew Mace, 43, who is named after his father, suffered a head injury after having a heart attack earlier this month. The recently laid-off Fort Hood contractor was in his Killeen home at the time with his two roommates, Rodolfo Salinas and Kevin Herrera.
"The heart attack happened mid conversation; I was actually facing him when he fell back," said Herrera.
CPR performed by Salinas, kept Mace alive. Despite the effort, after their friend was transferred to Seton, the two roommates got an unexpected surprise. Mace's estranged wife had arrived in town and told doctors to disconnect life support. The critical care was returned after Mace's parents were contacted. On Monday an emergency restraining order was granted.
"What we wanted was a fighting chance and that's what everyone's prayers and wishes and Texas Center for Defense of Life did for us," said Salinas.
The Round Rock law-firm typically works a different kind of pro-life case, according to co-founder Greg Terra.
"We've have not had an end of life case, we have filed lawsuits in Texas where teenaged girls were being coerced to have abortions against their will but this is the first end of life case we've handled," said Terra.
Terry Mace and his wife were in the process of getting a divorce when he had his heart attack. She lives in Colorado and was not at the hearing Thursday. With guardianship decided, at least for the next 60 days, Mace's father is expected to ask for a new medical assessment. Attorney Stephen Casey said there is reason to be optimistic.
"The report we had this morning is that his eyes are opening, he is turning his head from side to side lifting his head up," Casey said.
Certainly not the actions of a man who is brain dead, according to Casey, who believes Terry Mace is someone who is not beyond hope.