Immigrant Dies Against Family's Wishes
Woman's death highlights health insurance crisis
December 14, 2005By JANET ST. JAMES / WFAA-TV
Tirhas Habtegiris was 27 when she died.
A family has gathered to mourn a woman gone too soon.
Tirhas Habtegiris was an East African immigrant and only 27 when she died Monday afternoon.
She'd been on a respirator at Baylor Regional Medical Center at Plano for 25 days.
"They handed me this letter on December 1st. and they said, we're going to give you 10 days so on the 11th day, we're going to pull it out," said her brother Daniel Salvi.
Salvi was stunned to get this hand-delivered notice invoking a complicated and rarely used Texas law where a doctor is "not obligated to continue" medical treatment "medically inappropriate" when care is not beneficial.
Even though her body was being ravaged by cancer, this family says Tirhas still responded and was conscious. She was waiting one person.
"She wanted to get her mom over here or to get to her mom so she could die in her mom's arms," says her cousin Meri Tesfay.
Ten days was not enough time, they say, to get a mother from Africa to America.
The family and hospital desperately tried to get Tirhas moved to a nursing home but they say no one would take her.
"A fund issue is what I understand. Because she is not insured and that was the major reason the way I understood it," Salvi said.
A statement from Baylor Plano disputes that and says the hospital did its best to comply with the family's wishes in every way.
Still, on the 11th day, Tirhas Habtegiris was taken off the respirator and died.
Her family feels caught in America's health insurance crisis.
"And it's kind of a shock to me too to experience this in this country. It's the richest country in the world. Very sad," Salvi said.
Experts say there are very few charity beds for ventilator dependent patients in this state. President George W. Bush has said he wants to expand healthcare for legal immigrants in this country.
One thing the article---and ol' Dubya---failed to mention here is that it was George Bush himself who signed the bill allowing hospitals to pull the plug against the wishes of the family--or the patient---in the first place, creating the law that killed this woman.
More hypocrisy from the POTUS.
My question now is: where are all those protesters, who cried and yelled and stood by all those days and nights for Terri Shiavo? Where were they, when this young woman lay dying?
Did the only care because Terri was white? Or a born US citizen, and not an immigrant?
Where was all that "sanctity of life" and pleas not to allow anyone but God to take a life?
This family was not divided. And after only eleven days, they weren't ready to say good-bye.
Does no one care?
Where art thou, Jeb, Randall, Bill?
Are your true colors showing now?