Petah Tikva, Israel – The Israel Medical Association has denounced Deputy Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman for ordering doctors at Schneider Children’s Medical Center to treat a lower-brain-dead baby girl like an ordinary living patient and give her antibiotics and other treatment, rather than only keeping her connected to a respirator.
Litzman visited the Petah Tikva hospital three days in a row to make sure that his orders, issued at the request of the baby’s haredi parents late last week – were being followed.
A few weeks ago, Litzman said he “does not recognize lower-brain death” as death, but “observes the law.”
Under the law, the immediate family of a lower-brain-dead patient can insist that he or she not be disconnected from a respirator or have nourishment withheld, but the patient is not treated like a living person who needs treatment. Otherwise, the default procedure is to turn off the respirator after a two-doctor team decides the patient is brain dead.
IMA chairman Dr. Leonid Eidelman said in a letter to Litzman on Sunday that his personal views as a Gerrer hassid should not determine medical policy.
The team of doctors who did not disconnect the baby from the respirator at the parents’ request, but yet objected to treating her as a live patient, said Eidelman, “were acting in an ethical and professional manner, and there was no room for your intervention. In a democratic country, a deputy minister is not above the law.
“If he wants to change the law, he can try through accepted procedures. Your demand that the doctors act according to your opinions is very serious,” the IMA chairman wrote. “You had no right to intervene in professional medical considerations, whether it emanates from your world view, political considerations or others.”
The IMA will not agree to a situation in which “foreign considerations influence professional medical procedure. When doctors go to treat patients, they must view the patient alone, his problem and the ways to treat him without any fear of threats.
“Your brutal intervention in medical processes constitutes an existential danger to public health and has destructive implications on the health system. We will do all we can to prevent this,” Eidelman wrote.
A response to Eidelman – who assumed his post only a few months ago – was sent by the Health Ministry spokeswoman, with copies to health reporters late tonight. It was dictated by Haim Justman, Litzman’s chief of staff.
Justman charged in the fierce response to Eidelman that the IMA chairman showed “an unprecedented thrill for attacking the deputy minister and sending his comments to everyone possible even before you did the minimum necessary to hear his position and specific comments on this affair.”
Justman said families who oppose the criteria of lower-brain death can ask that the respirator not be disconnected and palliative care not be halted until the heart stops.
However, IMA secretary-general attorney Lea Wapner noted that “palliative care” does not include active treatment.
Justman continued that Litzman felt “it would help the whole health system and [increase] the trust of rabbis” for his instructions to be carried out, rather than to take irreversible action relating to the baby.
Litzman, said his aide, wants to “prevent mass conflict between one group and another vis a vis the medical establishment and increase trust in it, especially given the recent events in Jerusalem.”
The reference is to the arrest of the haredi mother who allegedly starved her son nearly to death but was saved by Hadassah University Medical Center doctors.
Former health minister Nissim Dahan of Shas, who was described by Litzman just last week in the Knesset plenum as “the best-ever health minister,” stated from the outset that he would not interfere in professional medical decisions, and he maintained this approach throughout his relatively short period in office.
Wapner said the IMA would wait to hear a reaction from Litzman himself to Eidelman’s letter and not comment on Justman’s, whose wording was regarded by the IMA as “scandalous, hysterical and insulting.”
Wapner stressed that “we are the Israel Medical Association, not a government hospital dependent on the Health Ministry. We may go to the High Court of Justice over this. There never has been such a coarse intervention by the political head of the ministry.”
if she starved till dead, why it took so long for haddasa to save her, & how come she didn’t die after being starved to dead for such a long time till haddasa find time to make up a story???
Speaking as somebody who knows the family of the baby personably, why would some IMA director get so incensed and upset that the girls family wants to do the most possable to maintain the chance,slim as it is, of a recovery? (And to all of you screaming how there’s no hope…blalabla…I’m ata ma’amin, ain yiush ba’olam!) The way I see it, its a dagger in the heart of the parents fight of their childs life! I’m sure if anybody with children who they love would imagine themselfs,chas v’shalom, in a situation like this, you would very quickly understand and agree. In short, while it may be against the “rules” to go the extra mile for a brain-dead child, “rules” are for sports, not for the lives of hashem beutifull children! Hashem yishmor!
It is a mere ‘coincidence’ that which Drudge is reporting from the Timesonline about a person who was 23 (!) years in a coma & long considered braindead, only to have been recently reevaluated and pronounced as 100% alive with a fully functioning brain, albeit without the ability to control his body. Go over and read for yourself.
This story proves the Daas Torah & Litzman correct and the IMA wrong!
I am tired of liberal doctors calling for the murder of innocents, whether they are unborn babies, or those who are on life support, c”v.
i personally have seen patients who have been pronounced brain dead by so called reputable doctors and after many months wake up and live many years. please doctors stop playing g-d we have one g-d and let hashem decide when is the time for a person/child to die. Put yourself in that bed you would also want them to try everything in a doctors power to try to save you. Every person has the right to try to save his family member. A well educated doctor will admit that hashem is the ultimate decider if this child will live. Please it is about time doctors realize it could be they themselves in that bed and start having feelings for humans not just animals
The doctors were not objecting to keeping this child on the respirator, if that is what the parents wanted. They were also prepared to provide palliative care.
Their objection was to Litzman’s insistence that they provide “active care,” as if the fact that the child’s brain was no longer receiving oxygen and breaking down was irrelevant.
This article is written very poorly and fails to explain what the real issue was.
by the way i thiought litzman changed the dress code for all workers to be dressed tzniusdig it don’t look that way to me in the picture!
#8 , someone declared brain dead will not wake up. Brain death is not the same as a coma.
Also, as stated earlier, doctors were not against keeping the patient alive,but rather were against actively treating the patient. Before you get all upset, learn the halacha. There might be a reason not to provide care more than the basic minimum.
does everybody agree that if there is no heart beat the person is dead???????? well you can all watch the news at 11 tonight on cbs where they will share a story here in NY about a guy who walked into cornell not feeling well and went into cardiac arrest… had NO HEARTBEAT for 47min. thats right almost an hr. and the Dr.s did not give up …they did 4500 compressions and shocked him eight times to get going again… 3 months later he is walking around, back to normal sharing his story how while he was in a coma he heard and remembers everything…. I understand that its not brain-dead… but as we know anything can happen we do our part to daven to hashem and HE decides what the outcome shall be…..
When Litzman was first appointed, there was a great concern he was totally ignorant of public health issues and medical ethics and his actions thusfar sadly prove that belief to be accurate. He is a political hack and should never be trusted with these kinds of decisions. He should be fired immediately and replaced with someone who is both a medical health professional as well as sensitive to issues of halacha (of which there are many such individuals in EY). The politics of EY and the U.S. are the same; we seem to allow the dredge of the political barrel to assume positions of great importantce as a reward to their political cronies.
With finite resources, the time, staff time, etc. used to sustain an electronic signal from the body of a medically (brain) dead individual at some point will result in denial or limitation in care to someone with real medical needs and a chance of recovery. We can believe in olam haboh and techiyas hamasim without taking actions which threaten the lives of others. When there is still hope, its a slippery slope to “pull the plug”. When someone is brain dead, you are already at the bottom of the hill..there is no more slope to slide down.
sounds like he stepped on somebodys foot. otherwise why would anybody be sooooo against anybody attempting to save somebodies life no matter how dire the situtation. guess that’s y tov shebrofem l’gehinom.
don’t you understand doctors are not hashem when they say a person is brain dead it is not necessarily true. one of the people i am referring to was in famous lenox hill hospital in manhattan and was pronounced dead later taken to another hospital out of state also again to pronounce he is brain dead but meanwhile a few weeks later without any particular treatment, the patient awoke and was able to speak again, who do these doctors think they are. ONLY HASHEM IS THE ONE TO DECIDE WHEN A PERSON SHOULD DIE…………..