On September 11, 2019, Ruben Vati, a 26-year-old Arizonan man was admitted to HonorHealth John C. Lincoln Medical Center after his brother found him struggling to breathe. According to the hospital, Ruben Vati was admitted for a drug overdose. Ruben was declared brain-dead on September 15.
As of September 15, Ruben was a registered organ donor. However, his family says he had second thoughts about donating his organs. Nevertheless, Donor Network of Arizona is suing to take possession of Ruben’s organs.
Yet, Ruben’s family, who is suing to keep Ruben alive and his organs inside his body, claims their son is not really brain-dead. "They declared him brain-dead, but we know he's not," said Stela Vati, Ruben's mother. "Because when you talk to him, he's tearing [up]."
A court has issued a temporary restraining order against Donor Network and HonorHealth to keep them from harvesting Ruben’s organs and ordered that a neurologist be allowed to examine Ruben. HonorHealth issued the following statement:
“HonorHealth is required to abide by the court order. The order states HonorHealth is to allow a board-certified neurologist to perform an exam on the patient. HonorHealth granted emergency temporary privileges to a board-certified neurologist identified by the family. As of now, that neurologist has not come to the facility to examine the patient.”
On September 21, the family held a protest outside HonorHealth. Many friends and family showed up in support of Ruben, asking the hospital to abide by the wishes of Ruben and his family and not allow Ruben’s organs to be harvested while he is still alive.
Protests continued outside the hospital on September 25 and this morning, with some members of the public also showing support for the family and protesting Donor Network of Arizona’s suing for the body at a court hearing which was scheduled to be held at 9 am (Phoenix time) today. Additionally, the temporary restraining order granted by the court was time-limited. The court order is said to only be valid until today.
According to Life Legal Defense Foundation, Ruben’s family is Christian and they believe death has not occurred until cardio-respiratory functions have ceased. The family is concerned that the hospital and the donor company are too eager to remove Ruben’s life support and cease treatment in order to harvest his organs. Before the Vatis obtained a court order, the hospital had refused their requests for a second examination by an independent neurologist and an EEG, instead removing Ruben’s feeding tube.
You can help by contacting the hospital and asking them to respect the family’s wishes, either by bringing in a neurologist or by moving Ruben to another hospital which will continue to care for him. You can also contact Donor Network of Arizona.
John C Lincoln Medical Center
602-870-6060 ext. 331857
For an update about the court hearing today, see this video from Jamie Jeffries, someone on the ground with this situation.