Photo: Sebastian Shiner
Judge makes tough decision
Photo: Sebastian Shiner
'Death with dignity’ OK’d
Tel Aviv court accepts terminally ill patient’s request to be disconnected from life support

TEL AVIV - A 59-year-old terminally ill patient should be allowed to disconnect from life support machines, the Tel Aviv District Court ruled Monday morning.


Yael Hirschorn has been suffering from Muscular Dystrophy for the past eight years. The illness has forced her to remain in bed and connected to a respiration machine at all times. Meanwhile, her only way to communicate with those around her is through the use of her eyelids.


Hirschorn’s daughter petitioned the court and asked that her mother not be reconnected to the respiration machine once it is disconnected for regular cleaning.


Procedure to be undertaken privately


District Court Judge Uri Goren accepted the request. His decision was based on the medical opinions offered by two doctors, who said Hirschorn’s disease is indeed terminal.


“We are talking about a terminal illness which grows worse on occasion, and has now reached its final stages,” the judge wrote in his decision. “The court reached the conclusion to accede to the request.”


The two doctors must be present near the patient and supervise the disconnection of the life support machine, Goren wrote. The judge also ruled the procedure must be accompanied with the use of painkillers and be undertaken privately, in the presence of family members only.


Coincidentally, a similar petition was submitted to the Tel Aviv District Court Monday: Five years ago Tina Levy, 60, suffered a heart attack while swimming in her friends' pool.


Her husband performed mouth-to-mouth resuscitation on her and saved her life, but the trauma left her with severe brain damage.


Levy is conscious, but her life is dependent on a feeding machine attached to her stomach, as she is unable to swallow food. Moreover, she has trouble communicating.


The request to disconnect her from the feeding machine was submitted by her husband, two children, relatives and friends.


"Once she said to me 'I won't be around forever, death is a part of life. Death is not a tragedy'," Levy's daughter Ronit told Yedioth Ahronoth.


"She said 'I have a special request from you. If, God forbid, I would be attached to machines - I ask of you to see to it that I be disconnected from them'."


First published: 09.05.05, 10:58
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