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CHAYIM ARUCHIM - TREATING PATIENTS ACCORDING TO HALACHA

PRESS RELEASE June 6, 2021

 Shlomo (name changed to protect the confidentiality of the patient and family), a 5 year old previously healthy child, was admitted to a world class hospital in New York in a comatose state, where the doctors deemed him to be presumed brain dead.  In order to confirm his brain death status, they were going to perform a brain apnea test, although his parents protested. When the medical team advised the family that they could perform the test without parental consent,  his parents reached out to Chayim Aruchim.

 
Upon calling Chayim Aruchim, they were transferred to  Rabbi Zishe Ausch and Mrs Leah Horowitz. Shlomo’s parents were advised  that the apnea test itself is against halacha (according to psak signed by Harav Dovid Feinstein ZT”L, Harav Yecheskel Roth ZT”L, Harav Shmuel Kamenetzky Shlita, Harav Tzvi Ausch Shlita and Harav Binyomin  Zev Landau Shlita). Chayim Aruchim’s legal counsel immediately sent a letter to the hospital objecting to its plan to conduct the brain apnea test, stating that under New York State Department of Health regulations, the hospital was required to have a policy in place that provides for accommodation of the family’s religious objection to brain death as a criteria for determining death.  Chayim Aruchim also called upon the hospital to not declare the patient dead if it would go forward with the brain death test, and to not withdraw life support from the patient.  Chayim Aruchim has succeeded many times in the past in getting hospitals to not conduct the brain apnea test over a family’s objections, usually by interceding with hospital legal counsel and administrators, and at times getting lawyers to go to court to get the appropriate court order against the hospital.   .
 
However, in this case although the hospital physicians and hospital lawyers were notified that they should not do the apnea test, they were determined to go forward with it. Chayim Aruchim therefore immediately recommended lawyers to represent the family, and Mark Kurzmann, of Kurzmann and Kurzmann Law Offices, PC and Michael Korsinsky, of Korsinsky and Klein, both got involved with the case.  With both lawyers working assiduously for many long hours, fighting to save the child’s life, letters were faxed and e-mailed to the hospital objecting strenuously to the pending brain death testing, and an emergency  request for a temporary restraining order was prepared and filed in New York State Supreme Court . As a result, the court issued a Temporary Restraining Order which barred the hospital from conducting the brain death test.  The court order also stated that the hospital was required to provide full medical treatment to the child, and insert a stomach feeding tube to provide the child with sufficient nutrition as well as perform a tracheostomy so the child would be able to continue to breath properly, and thus be able to be transferred to another facility.  The order further stated that the hospital should allow the child to be transferred to an appropriate facility that would provide continued medical care. 
 
Once the determination by the NYS Supreme Court was in place,  physicians could not perform the brain apnea test.  But each step of treatment was a battle. Rabbi Ausch  and Mrs. Horowitz, spoke  frequently to the physicians multiple times, demanding certain medical care be administered, although the doctors considered it “treating the parents, not the child.”  As the date for a court hearing on the case neared, and the legal team continued to advocate on the child’s behalf, the hospital persevered in delaying the performance of tracheostomy and feeding tube, both required for transfer to a long term care facility. Rabbi Yeruchem Silber,  NYS Director of Government Affairs of Agudath Israel, reached out to the appropriate elected officials, to pressure the hospital to comply.  The hospital then performed the tracheostomy and PEG feeding tube placement, thus enabling the child to be transferred to another facility.
 
 Chayim Aruchim’s Care Navigator, Mrs. Leah Horowitz, guided the family in finding  a facility that would  keep this child alive and respect Halachic guidance.  Several weeks have passed and the child is safely in a facility, where the staff is giving him tender care and no one is pressuring the family to pull the plug.  It was a victory for the sanctity of life and the rights of parents to have their religious beliefs accommodated by a hospital.  Our tefilos are that the child should have a Refuah Shlaima, and be Mekadesh Shem Shamayim.