(Photo: Screenshot via CNN)
Erick Muñoz, husband of the pregnant Texas woman who was recently taken off life support, said in a recent interview that he wishes ultimately God had taken his life instead of his wife's.
Muñoz has been embroiled in a weeks-long legal battle over his wife after a Texas hospital refused to take her off life support due to her pregnancy, even though Muñoz argued his wife had verbally communicated that she would want to be taken off life support if ever such an event took place.
"Many a night, I asked God to take me instead," Muñoz told CNN's "AC360" on Wednesday in his first national television interview since winning a court ruling to have his wife, Marlise Muñoz, disconnected from life support. "But you can't turn off that knowledge, that you know how bad it was. … And I promised her, I told her I will honor her wishes."
Muñoz sat alongside Marlise's mother, Lynne Machado, for the Wednesday evening interview. The two have been fighting the John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth since November to have Marlise disconnected from life support.
Marlise, 33, was 14-weeks pregnant on November 26 when her husband found her unconscious on the floor of their home in Fort Worth. Doctors suspected Marlise suffered from a blod clot that traveled to her lungs, resulting in a pulmonary embolism. The hospital reportedly told Muñoz and Machado in November that Marlise was brain dead and her heart kept stopping, but that they couldn't remove her from life support machines because she was pregnant. Texas law requires hospitals to maintain life support for a body as long as a preborn baby is alive and developing.
Marlise's husband and mother argued, however, that their loved one had made it verbally clear to them that she would not want to be on life support machines if she was ever pronounced brain dead. Marlise had never signed a Do Not Resuscitate form, but Muñoz had argued that he had discussed such a situation with his wife multiple times while she was alive, as both of them were paramedics and therefore often met with life and death situations.
"We looked her in the eye and told her," a tearful Muñoz told CNN's Anderson Cooper. "And for the state of Texas, to not let us do that, was hard. You know, you want to keep your word to your loved one."
Ultimately, Muñoz filed a lawsuit in the 17th District Court in Tarrant County asking that the hospital abide by his wife's verbal wishes and remove her from all life support. Attorneys for the husband also argued that Marlise's fetus was so deformed at 22 weeks gestation that a gender could not be identified, even though local ABC news affiliate WFAA previously confirmed that the baby had a normal heartbeat at 18 weeks gestation. The next round of health tests for the unborn child would have taken place at 24 weeks gestation.
On Jan. 24, District Judge R.H. Wallace Jr. granted Muñoz's wish, ruling that the hospital remove Marlise from life support by Monday morning. On Sunday the hospital confirmed that it had removed her from life support and she had passed away.
Marlise's case gained national attention as a topic of moral ethics and preserving life of the unborn. Pro-life groups opposed removing Marlise from life support, arguing that the life of her unborn child should be protected for as long as possible. Those opposed to keeping Marlise on life support argued that the hospital was using her as an experiment to test the boundaries of the Texas statute protecting unborn children.
"The Muñoz and Machado families will now proceed with the somber task of laying Marlise Muñoz's body to rest, and grieving over the great loss that has been suffered. May Marlise Muñoz finally rest in peace, and her family find the strength to complete what has been an unbearably long and arduous journey," Heather King and Jessica Janicek, lawyers for Muñoz, said in a statement following Marlise's death on Sunday.