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New York - Still Alive After Being Pronounced Dead, NY Hospital Slapped With Lawsuit Asking For Retraction Of Jewish Man’s Death Certificate

Published on: June 18, 2017 12:00 PM
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New York - An Orthodox Jewish Brooklyn woman has filed suit against a Manhattan hospital, asking them to rescind a death certificate issued for her husband, who remains alive and on life support 18 days later.

According to papers filed in Brooklyn Supreme Court by Sarah Nakar, 68 year old Yechezkel Nakar was already being treated at New York Presbyterian Hospital when he suffered a cerebral hemorrhage several weeks ago.

The patient, whose prognosis was unclear according to the lawsuit, was placed on a respirator, although he was observed to be breathing on his own for a short time on at least one occasion.

Doctors at the hospital advised the family on numerous occasions to discontinue medical treatment but the family insisted that they wanted to continue Nakar’s care for religious reasons. 

Despite their objections, New York Presbyterian stopped Nakar’s dialysis treatments and ordered a CT angiogram to measure his brain activity.  Based on the outcome of that test, a single doctor signed on an electronic death certificate, declaring Nakar dead on May 31st, the first day of Shavuos.

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Attorney Mark Kurzmann, who consulted on the case in its earliest days, said that the hospital’s actions are incomprehensible, particularly at an institution like New York Presbyterian which he described as “one of the crown jewels of American medicine.”

“At best, it is very hard to understand how the hospital felt justified in performing an invasive test on which the patient and his family did not give consent under New York law,” Kurzmann told VIN News.

Outraged by New York Presbyterian’s actions, family members elected to move Nakar, who remained on life support despite the being pronounced dead, to another medical facility.  That transfer took place two days later with Nakar taken by ambulance to Maimonides Medical Center, with New York Presbyterian sending along paperwork to Maimonides for Nakar’s future care.

Michael Krauss, a law professor at George Mason University law, said that New York Presbyterian’s actions appear to contradict its pronouncement of Nakar’s death, reported The New York Post (http://nyp.st/2sGCVsQ).

The fact that Nakar is still alive definitely casts a shadow of doubt on the validity of the brain death ruling, noted Cardozo Law School professor of Jewish law, Rabbi J. David Bleich.  Patients who are pronounced brain dead rarely survive on a respirator for more than 12 days, explained Rabbi Bleich.

“I assure you, there is room for error in everything, including neurological data,” said Rabbi Bleich.

Further complicating matters, Nakar’s medical care at Maimonides or any other medical facility is no longer covered by medical insurance because he was legally declared dead.

According to the New York State Department of Health, hospitals are required to implement policies that will make “reasonable accommodations” for any religious or moral objections to the use of brain death as the standard for determining death. New Jersey state law also requires hospitals to have similar policies in place in determining if a patient meets the legal standard for brain death.

“What this case highlights most dramatically is the right of an American citizen to a reasonable accommodation of his religious rights,” said Kurzman. “There is no greater right under American law than the right to life.”

New York Presbyterian declined to comment on the story.



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Read Comments (13)  —  Post Yours »

1

 Jun 18, 2017 at 12:14 PM Butterfly Says:

Does anybody know the patient's status now?

2

 Jun 18, 2017 at 03:03 PM Anonymous Says:

still with us and improving

3

 Jun 18, 2017 at 04:01 PM Reb Yid Says:

Since they have a death certificate, they can now collect from his life insurance policy, and social security death benefit. Of course, they can no longer collect other benefits

4

 Jun 18, 2017 at 04:20 PM Anonymous Says:

Agudah must help this family fight their case, it's a slippery slope

5

 Jun 18, 2017 at 11:29 PM YiddishaMama Says:

Hard to believe these things really happen. This is frightening. We need to be vocal to protect our religious rights.

6

 Jun 18, 2017 at 11:32 PM no more medicare Says:

The most amazing thing is that by declaring him dead his medicare stops. Hospital and nursing homes will refuse to touch this patient with the guarantee that it will take a fight to get paid. This, in and of itself is a death sentence.

7

 Jun 19, 2017 at 02:52 AM Jew Lover Arab Hater Says:

#1 I'm all sooooooo sorry this is happening, but please take him to a hospital that wo t kill him it seems like they've gone from one place that wanted to get rid of him to a place that will finish him completely. There are reasons why rabbanim are so against maimondies & just so u know maimondies tries desperately to take people off life support as fast as possible.

#2 if anyone EVER thinks that a hospital is the wrong place for their family member (even if the hospital is refusing to let the patient out & persuades the patients insurance company they are the better hospital so the insurance refuses the acceptance on another hospital) call vital one & they will get ur family in to another hospital hopefully a better one

8

 Jun 19, 2017 at 06:34 AM Anonymous Says:

sad story... i wonder if the health insurance company is paying for any of the care after he was pronounced dead?

refuah shelema!!

9

 Jun 19, 2017 at 07:15 AM Anonymous Says:

wouldn't be surprised if Agudah all over this as they are experts in the religious side of the law.

10

 Jun 19, 2017 at 12:13 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #3  
Reb Yid Says:

Since they have a death certificate, they can now collect from his life insurance policy, and social security death benefit. Of course, they can no longer collect other benefits

It's embarrassing to see a frum jew thinking this way, especially in a public forum. If they knows he's not dead, collecting death benefits or life insurance would be stealing.

11

 Jun 19, 2017 at 02:02 PM shame on you Says:

Reply to #7  
Jew Lover Arab Hater Says:

#1 I'm all sooooooo sorry this is happening, but please take him to a hospital that wo t kill him it seems like they've gone from one place that wanted to get rid of him to a place that will finish him completely. There are reasons why rabbanim are so against maimondies & just so u know maimondies tries desperately to take people off life support as fast as possible.

#2 if anyone EVER thinks that a hospital is the wrong place for their family member (even if the hospital is refusing to let the patient out & persuades the patients insurance company they are the better hospital so the insurance refuses the acceptance on another hospital) call vital one & they will get ur family in to another hospital hopefully a better one

your comments are insensitive and full of stupidity reflecting accurately your very low IQ. The "Crown Jewel" Columbia discharged this patient after declaring him legally dead. Maimonides agreed to take him until this whole thing is settled, free of charge. they will in all likelihood not get paid for having him there. I sincerely doubt someone like you would do the same. so please just keep your stupid comments to yourself.

12

 Jun 19, 2017 at 02:31 PM Anonymous Says:

Please say tehillim for him Yechezkel Ezra ben Chaviva Ahuva. His yeshua will be a yeshua for all of us & show them that Hashem runs the world.

13

 Jun 20, 2017 at 02:44 PM berel Says:

I am sure that Chayim Aruchim, Agudah's end of life division, is involved in this case, because situations like this are exactly the reason Chayim Aruchim was created. Clearly the family has chosen to pursue the legal route and I have no doubt that the attorneys involved have been in close contact with the experts at Chayim Aruchim.

14

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