Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Is a Toronto Jewish man dead or alive?

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

The Canadian Press reported that the family of a Toronto man is challenging Ontario's brain death guidelines because based on the Jewish faith, their son is not dead, but alive. The Canadian Press reported:
Shalom Ouanounou’s family is asking the court for an injunction to keep him on a ventilator and feeding tube while it pushes to have his death certificate revoked. 
A notice of application filed by Ouanounou’s father and substitute decision-maker shows he seeks to challenge the Canadian guidelines on brain death on grounds that they do not accommodate religious beliefs. 
The document says those guidelines define death as the irreversible cessation of brain function and of the capacity to breathe. 
It says that Orthodox Judaism, the faith Ouanounou practises, considers death to be complete cardiac and respiratory failure. 
The application argues that disregarding those beliefs would represent a serious assault on Ouanounou’s human dignity and religious liberty. 
It says the matter raises a “serious constitutional issue.”
Shalom Ouanounou, 25, had an asthma attack at home on September 27 and was taken by ambulance to Humber River Hospital, where he was intubated and placed on a respirator. Three days later doctors declared Ouanounou as brain dead and issued his death certificate.
The case is being heard in a Toronto court today. The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition is considering intervenor standing in this case.


Morten Horn said...

Very disappointing that the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, which ought to be about - euthanasia prevention - is taking such a stance on something that is definitely NOT euthanasia.

There are no credible or serious arguments to abandon the modern medical understanding of what constitutes death; namely the irreversible and total destruction of the brain, and thereby the irreversible loss of the capacity to be alive.

Bodies of brain dead persons cannot be alive in any sense of the word, except from having a semblance of life (being warm, having a pulse, having their chests moving) in the setting of the ICU. In which they are not "alive" in the sense that human beings are alive. They are kept in a life-resembling state through the action of ventilators, cardiac drugs and other ICU interventions.
They have no potential for ever returning to the state of being alive. They cannot be sustained outside the setting of the ICU - or an ICU-like setting established in a private or nursing home. If correctly diagnosed, they cannot ever again obtain the ability to sense or feel or act or think. They are not only impaired mentally - they have neither capacity nor potential left.

If "pro-life" people are concerned about human dignity, and about the dignity of human beings despite disability or disease - well, then I'm all in. However, the "dignity" of the body of a brain dead person is not about the dignity of the weakest and most vulnerable among us. It's about the dignity of the remains of the human body.

This blog may actually hurt the fight for respect for human dignity, and the very, very important fight against assisted dying, by extending this fight so that one cannot even allow a dead person the dignity of being dead.

Morten Horn, MD, PhD, neurologist, Oslo, Norway - and a staunch opponent of assisted death

Alex Schadenberg said...

Dear Morton:

Don't read into the article what has not been stated.
There are other issues in this legal question that relate to brain death guidelines and Ontario law.
You are right, this is not an issue concerning euthanasia.

Thank you for your insight.

Toronto Wedding Photographer said...

As you know, in our religion, as long as there’s the slightest hope – the heart is going – we cannot take off life support. We always hope for a miracle.