Oct 18, 2013
By Michael Kramer
The country’s highest court has upheld the right of Canadians to demand life support – against the advice of doctors.
In a 5 – 2 decision, The Supreme Court of Canada has dismissed an appeal that would have permitted doctors in Toronto to end life support for a severely brain-damaged man without the consent of his family or a substitute decision maker.
The case involves 61-year-old Hassan Rasouli, who has been kept alive on a ventilator and feeding tube since brain surgery in 2010 went wrong.
Doctors at Sunnybrook hospital have determined there is no therapeutic hope of recovery and that keeping Rasouli on life support will result in a series of progressively worse medical complications as his body deteriorates.
Rasouli’s wife will not give her consent – citing the family’s religious beliefs.
She’s also convinced that her husband’s movements indicate a level of minimal consciousness.
The top court calls this a “tragic, yet increasingly common conflict.”