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The ‘Coalition’ Enlisted to Assist a Youth Refusing Court-Ordered Cancer Treatment

chemoAfter the sides were unable to reach agreement, askanim, a number of rabbonim, Hatzalah organizations, legal experts, musicians and others were called together to form the “coalition” to deal with the case of a young chareidi boy diagnosed with cancer but refusing chemotherapy. He has been hospitalized against his will and is being forced to receive treatment in Rambam Medical Center in Haifa. The “coalition” is dealing with police, the state prosecutor and hospital officials, seeking to maintain a dialogue between the patient, the family and the various state agencies.

The coalition is working to arrange for a delegation of rabbonim and public officials to meet with the patient’s family, Health Ministry officials, doctors at Rambam to bring an end to a most unfortunate case, hoping to achieve the best possible results.

Zaka CEO Yehuda Meshi-Zahav is heading the coalition in the hope of reaching an understanding between the sides. A court intervened and there has not been any meaningful dialogue between the sides to date. Meshi-Zahav is optimistic that he will be able to break the ice towards conduct direct discussion between the relevant parties. Meshi-Zahav explains that no one has sat down and explained anything to the family and that is what they are waiting for, some explanation of what is going on.

A meeting was set for Monday morning 11 Menachem Av headed by Rabbi Yitzchok Dovid Grossman Shlita of Migdal HaEmek, who will also be speaking with the deputy director of the medical center in the hope of launching a meaningful dialogue. Also assisting in the effort is Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman and Minister of Welfare (Likud) Chaim Katz.

Representing the family is attorney Ephraim Damri, who told Kikar Shabbos that the hospital turned to a court seeking authority to have the child transferred to Schneider Children’s Hospital in Petach Tikvah. Due to the intervention of Meshi-Zahav, that request has been frozen.

The child was diagnosed with lymphatic leukemia five years ago. In February 2014 it was determined the illness returned. He underwent surgery and treatment. The family was opposed to continued treatment and they turned to Rav Fuerer who referred them to a specific physician. That physician instructed the child to undergo treatment but not chemotherapy. The rav agreed with the family and advised them against continuing the treatment suggested by the hospital. State officials intervened and submitted an expert opinion that contradicts that of the doctor selected by Rav Furrer. The court sided with the state, ordering treatment against the will of the child and his parents according to Damri.

The family explained the problematic growth was removed and there is no immediate threat to their son’s condition. They fear continued chemo will kill him, or leave him sterile, or severely hamper his growth and continued development.

Damri explains that after that incident his condition stabilized and the patient said “I almost died and I do not wish to continue the treatment”. The young patient added “You do not listen to me but threaten me”.

Damri and the family hope the boy will not have to continue with the treatments that he does not want. The family is going to protest outside Rambam Hospital on Monday, at 18:00. The family also released a video explaining the youth is being compelled to undergo treatment against their wish and requests to be permitted to “die with dignity” are being ignored.

The teen ran away from the hospital last week, compelled to return against his will by the court. He told Channel 2 News “The treatments won’t help me anyway”.

In the video aired by Channel 2 News, the boy says “Dear People of Israel. I am asking that anyone who can come and protest on my behalf to do so at the entrance to Rambam Hospital in Haifa regarding the treatments being forced upon me. I am asking that if you can possibly come, please do so to stop forcing me to be treated while restrained. I too must die. Please permit me to do so honorably. That is my only request”.

Rambam Hospital’s statement explains the child has been treated for over one year, “by investing time and inexhaustible energy of all those in the hospital to save his life including repeated requests to welfare authorities and the court. We are dealing with a child who has an oncological illness that can be treated if the family would cooperate and bring the minor for treatments. Because the parents, who are his legal guardian under law, the child himself does not cooperate with the medical staff but adhere to the advice of non-professionals and others that have intervened. With the intervention of welfare authorities and a court order, the family was compelled to bring him for treatment”.

“The hospital is not a prison and the parents are responsible for his stay in the hospital. For as long as the court does not order police to make sure the patient remains in the hospital, we have no way of preventing the 16-year-old, who is in his parent’s custody from leaving the hospital”.

Channel 2 quotes the hospital adding it does not plan to treat him against his will for effective therapy is a prolonged process that demands cooperation and a commitment to adhering to the strict protocol by the patient and his family.

(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)

5 Responses

  1. Who are these non-professionals? Rav Furrer, he is more proffessional than most doctors! The recommended physician? Why is his opinion ignored?

  2. What about the Saferstein institute?
    Altenative medicine is also an option.
    Did everyone who goes with the “protocol” get better?
    Are side effects taken into account?
    A decision must be made by a Godol BaTorah.
    There is a lot of “Doctors” on both sides selling their agenda.

  3. Parent’s are the legal guardian of their children, not state or court! They have NO the right to force medical treatment on anyone.
    This is the definition of Communism.
    It doesn’t make a difference if you or the State like their choose it’s THERE choice.
    Once you violate this, there is not end to the evil.
    If you say something that is against the state, they can say you are mentally disabled and drug you up and give you a lobotomy.

  4. What does this have to do with frumkeit? The issue involves a dispute between the parents and the state over which course of medical treatment to follow in an area in which many physicians would disagree, and the parents are relying on a physician of their choosing rather than one assigned by the state. Israel being set up as a socialist country, expects the state to be making decisions. The same dispute would happen if the parents were secular Jews or Arabs or whatever.

    It should be noted that “chemo” often fails, and many patients who receive end up worse off – the treatment makes them sicker, and fails to cure the cancer. For issues where the treatment is more reliable (e.g. almost everyone treated gets better), or if the treatment itself raised halachic issues (e.g. the doctor prescribes eating pork as a treatment), the discussion would be quite different.

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