Every day, Chayim Aruchim receives frantic calls from local families who want to make sure that the care their ill loved ones receive is optimal from a halachic perspective. Chayim Aruchim was founded to guide, advocate, and protect the religious rights of critically ill Jewish patients.
We interviewed R’ Shmuel Friedman, a longtime Lakewood resident, about his frightening near-death experience. Read on to see how Chayim Aruchim fought to successfully keep him alive at a time when the hospital was ready to disconnect his life support and end treatment.
CA: As you know, the mission of Chayim Aruchim is to guide those who want to live and help those who are fighting to sustain life, by providing practical guidance 24-hours a day. What was your personal experience like with Chayim Aruchim?
SF: I fell ill with a heart condition, during which I suffered a cardiac arrest. I was in an induced coma for nearly three weeks. The doctors said they needed to indefinitely put me into an induced coma for me to have any chance of staying alive. I have no recollection of being aware of anything that happened while I was unconscious, or any of the things people said to me. My children told me everything that transpired and how close I was to dying, only after I woke up.
CA: Apparently, the hospital wanted to discontinue your life support while you were lying unconscious in the ICU because they felt you would never be able to wake up from the coma and recover. Why is that?
SF: If you are in an intensive care unit and sick enough for doctors to consider withdrawing life support, they’ll argue that aggressive interventions can prolong a patient’s suffering.They want the right to decide when it’s time to end life support, and let the patient die. They will say treatment has no medical benefit, as they see it, and may even be causing the patient harm. But as Yidden, we must do our hishtadlus and try to treat the patient. Nobody can draw a line for the end of life. Not even doctors.
CA: So what did Chayim Aruchim do to prevent the hospital staff from removing you from life support?
SF: My children reached out to them by calling the 718-ARUCHIM phone hotline and they immediately jumped into action. Chayim Aruchim guided my family as to their best course of action, and then advocated on their behalf to the medical team. In my case, Chayim Aruchim began negotiating directly with the hospital legal department and used their expertise to show how deescalating care would be in violation of the law. That forced the hospital to keep me on life support and continue providing treatment, until I ultimately came out of the coma.
CA: So would it be safe to say that Chayim Aruchim helped save your life?
SF: Absolutely, and with the help of Hashem, of course. Chayim Aruchim is here to save the lives of Klal Yisroel’s critically ill patients. I experienced firsthand how they uphold “Ki Heim Chayeinu”. I urge you to please support their critical work by donating to their fundraiser and visiting www.charidy.com/ca immediately. If you are looking to gain zechusim as we approach Rosh Hashanah, I can assure you that the schar you will get for saving the lives of so many people is tremendous.