NEWS 8 EXCLUSIVE
HALTOM CITY — Erick Muñoz has home videos to turn to; videos of his wife, Marlise, and their son Mateo.
They are brief life moments that now mean everything to a grieving husband.
Erick Muñoz visited his pregnant wife, who was brain-dead, in a Fort Worth hospital every day for 62 days.
“I have to fight those images. The way I fight them is I go to the videos and I go to the pictures... I go to the memories,” he said.
Muñoz and the Machado families talked for the first time with News 8 since saying farewell to Marlise Muñoz and their unborn child on Sunday.
Marlise was disconnected from life support at 11:29 a.m. on Sunday. Erick told News 8 that he had requested doctors do a final sonogram because he wanted to know the sex of the unborn child. After learning it was a girl, Erick named her "Nicole," Marlise’s middle name.
“It's hard," he said. "Part of you wants to yell and scream, but you just have to stay strong for the rest of the family, too, because you know your pain hurts them."
Erick Muñoz had sued JPS Hospital, where doctors refused to turn off the machines attached to his wife because of their interpretation of a state law that protects an unborn child.
On Friday, Judge R.H. Wallace ordered that Marlise be removed from life-support after eight weeks. The judge gave the Fort Worth hospital until 5 p.m. Monday to comply with his ruling, which Erick Muñoz said is what his wife would have wanted.
“We knew without a shadow of a doubt what she wanted done,” said Lynne Machado, Marlise’s mother.
Erick admits he’s seen a lot of negative comments about his decision, and realizes that everyone is entitled to an opinion. But he says something that was always talked about with his wife was quality of life.
Erick felt the child would not have a good quality of life if it had gone without oxygen for so many hours.
“I'm just glad they are not in my shoes. I hope every day that no one ever has to go through what I went through,” he said.
The family tells News 8 that Marlise Muñoz will be cremated. There are no plans for a public memorial or funeral service because the family is concerned that protesters would show up.
While so many have focused on the child they lost, Erick Muñoz now has to focus on the child left behind. Mateo is 15 months old and too young to understand.
“He knows his mama's pictures are on the wall, and he'll just stand there and look for a little bit... and move on,” Machado said.
Erick Muñoz said Marlise did have one life goal, and that was to fly in an F-16 fighter jet. Marlise’s father was in the military, so it was a conversation that came up often.
Erick hopes to one day make Marlise’s wish to ride in a fighter jet come true.
“She made me a better man, and I thank her for it. I thank her very much,” he said.