- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 23, 2015

HOUSTON (AP) - A patient at the center of a legal battle over whether a Houston hospital should continue to provide him with life-sustaining treatment has died.

Chris Dunn, 46, who had been at Houston Methodist Hospital since October, died Wednesday morning at the facility, the hospital said in a statement.

“Houston Methodist Hospital extends its thoughts and prayers to the family of Chris Dunn … We offer our deepest condolences at this difficult time,” the hospital said.

In a statement, Evelyn Kelly, Dunn’s mother said her family “would like to express our deepest gratitude to the nurses who have cared for Chris and for Methodist Hospital for continuing life-sustaining treatment of Chris until his natural death.”

Dunn had been diagnosed with an end-stage liver disease, gastric obstruction, a malignant pancreatic mass, respiratory failure and gastrointestinal bleeding. An ethics committee at the hospital had decided that life-sustaining treatment was medically inappropriate and further efforts to sustain his life would only prolong his suffering.

But Dunn had continued to receive treatment at the hospital while a judge considered who was authorized to make end-of-life medical decisions for Dunn.

Texas Right to Life, an organization that represented Dunn, said his family will continue its legal challenge to the Texas Advance Directives Act, a state law regulating medical treatment decisions near the end of life.

Houston Methodist Hospital said it understands the difficulty “when a loved one is gravely ill and medical decisions must be made.”

“Houston Methodist is honored to have served Chris and his family in a spiritual environment of caring,” the hospital said.

Dunn’s mother had said she believed the hospital’s decision to not continue providing medical care was based on her son’s lack of insurance and inability to pay for his care.

The hospital denied that claim.

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