The 43-year-old Killeen man who died earlier this week after being in a coma had his breathing and hydration tubes removed by a doctor without his family’s permission, an attorney representing the family said.
Terry A. Mace Jr. had been unconscious in the hospital for nearly three weeks.
On March 6, he went into cardiac arrest and hit his head in his Killeen home.
He became the center of a battle between family members to keep him alive, and died Monday night at Seton Medical Center Williamson in Round Rock.
Mace’s wife, who was divorcing him, reportedly asked doctors to take him off life support March 8.
The move sparked court proceedings between her and Mace’s parents, who wanted to keep Mace on life support.
Last week, a Williamson County judge granted Mace’s father a 60-day guardianship of Mace, which his wife did not challenge. However, for unknown reasons, the tubes that helped keep Mace alive were removed sometime in the last few days, said Stephen Casey, an attorney representing Mace’s parents.
Casey said the family may have been confused by the term “comfort care,” which he said was used by hospital officials to describe the care given to Mace.
Comfort care is medical care focused on relieving symptoms or pain.
“It’s a term of art,” Casey said.
The hospital did abide by the wishes of the parents, according Seton spokesperson Adrienne Lallo.
“We were in close communication with the parents of Mr. Mace from the time they were granted temporary guardianship and abided by their wishes,” according to a Seton news release. “Our thoughts and prayers are with Mr. Mace’s family members during this difficult time and we will continue to protect and respect their privacy.”
It’s unclear what the next step will be.
“We’re still fact-gathering,” Casey said. “We’re going to work with the family on this.”