“Mom, don’t give up on me. Give me every chance,” Patricia Adames remembers her son saying years ago if he was ever put on life support during a medical crisis.
Her son, David Ruiz II, saw his 2-year-old nephew on life support after a near-drowning incident. The child died after being removed from life support, Adames said.
Now, Adames seeks to support her son’s wish as he lays incapacitated connected to a ventilator at St. Joseph’s Hospital.
On New Year’s Eve, Ruiz, 32, suffered a stroke and was taken to the hospital, where he was placed in the intensive-care unit. By Jan. 13, he was declared brain-dead by doctors. His family said the hospital stopped providing treatment, water and nutrition to Ruiz without their knowledge. He remained connected to a ventilator, which helped him breathe.
He went 19 days without food and 15 days without water, said his family, which took to social media to pressure the hospital into restoring his food and water, which it did earlier this week. The pleas garnered national support from several groups that advocate for patients in Ruiz’s situation and their families.
“He is still alive,” Adames said, claiming he is moving his feet and responding to his family’s voices. “He hasn’t gotten time to heal.
“It’s not just me, but many expert doctors and attorneys who also believe he is alive. I have a tribe of people behind me and many other Christian agencies.”
Adames and Ruiz are members of the Pascua Yaqui Tribe.
The Terri Schiavo Life and Hope Network put the family in contact with lawyers and doctors experienced in dealing with life-support issues, Adames said. The network advocates for “the right to food and water, the presumption of the will to live, due process against denial of care, protection from euthanasia as a form of medicine and access to rehabilitative care,” according to its website.
Adames said the hospital agreed to restore his water and nutrition on the condition the family find a long-term, subacute care facility that will accept her son. The family created a Go Fund Me page to pay for his transfer and subsequent care.
Doctors at St. Joseph’s are now trying to achieve adequate hydration and nutrition to move Ruiz safely, Adames said.
As of Thursday afternoon, the page garnered more than $13,300 of their $150,000 goal.
Future care expenses will also be paid for through state Medicaid and tribal money. Exact costs will be determined after a facility is found.
Adames said there are barriers to finding a facility that meets Ruiz’s needs in a state with laws that permit his continued care. The family is willing to move him wherever he can receive care, but hope to get him to New Jersey where, by law, death cannot be declared against an individual’s religious beliefs.
Ruiz has two daughters, Adames said. “He’s here with me,” she said. “I want to hear his voice.”
St. Joseph’s Hospital, which is part of the Carondelet Health System and owned by Tenet Healthcare, said it cannot comment on the status of any patient without permission.
The hospital also said it “provides compassionate medical care and has served the diverse communities of Southern Arizona for many years. Our staff is committed to providing high quality care while respecting the cultural, religious and spiritual beliefs of patients and their families.”