Hollywood, FL – Orthodox Jewish Parents Fight To Keep Their Teenage Daughter On Life Support


    18 year old, Danielle Chaya Bat Aviva has been diagnosed with a malignant brain tumorHollywood, FL – Fifteen months ago, Danielle Zfat, 19, (Danielle Chaya Bat Aviva) of Hollywood, Florida was a healthy college-bound teenager. Today, she is on life support, fighting to stay alive, while her parents fend off efforts by the Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital to pull Danielle off of her life-sustaining devices.

    “Our way is to believe as a Jew,” Aviva Zfat, Danielle’s mother, told WSVN-TV/Channel 7 News (http://bit.ly/WPZyjf) as she hugged her husband, Reuven. “Is that everything goes through the heart. As long as the heart beats, the soul is in the heart, and therefore, she is alive.”

    Danielle was diagnosed with a brain tumor 14 months ago after waking up with numbness on the right side of her body. She was admitted to the hospital on November 25th, but her condition worsened on January 1st and she was put on life-support. “We just want her to live,” Danielle’s mother said, crying. “When God decides to take her, then He will take her. She’s breathing. She’s alive. She’s up there alive, breathing. Take care of my daughter, please. Give her life. Don’t cut her off.”

    As Orthodox Jews, the Zfats are forbidden from removing Danielle from life support. The Zfats’ attorneys filed an emergency motion to prevent the hospital from pulling the plug on Danielle after hospital physicians said they were planning to remove Danielle from her life-saving systems as of January 3rd.

    “There’s no analogy on life that’s safe when you’re talking about life,” family attorney Moshe Rubenstein said. “Life is the highest and it’s our duty to move mountains – in fact, to give our own life to save a life.” Menachem Mayberg, the other family attorney, said, “The doctors of the hospital specifically asked her whether or she wanted to fight and continue her life to live. She blinked once for yes.”

    For its part, the hospital has denied any attempts to remove Danielle from life support. In a statement, the hospital said patient confidentiality prevented them from discussing the case, but did say, “As an institution that values deeper caring, we do our utmost to respect religious and cultural beliefs.”

    In the meantime, Aviva Zfat is bargaining with God to save her daughter’s life. “If I can take her place, I’ll do it,” she said. “I’ll switch places. I’m older. I’ve done enough for me. She can have my time.”

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    1. I remember making the same pact for the person I loved who had and died of his battle with cancer. It’s not a pact done lightly & obviously for me it didn’t work. My heart desperately goes out to her and while I hope the mothers pact doesnt come to fruition, I do hope our prayers for her work and she makes a full recovery. First of all, the article never said she was brain dead, just the opposite it says she was able to understand a question being asked of her and then was able to blink. Second, miracles do occur and I seem to remember something about such a miracle, since I’m unsure what it is I won’t state it though. However, I am praying for her

    2. i hope she has a full and fast recovery! but i really believe if the mother takes on her self to cover her hair and dress modestly it will definitely help, we here so many story’s about taking upon urself something in that aspect! Refuah Shelama!

      • I hope that you take it upon yourself not to be insensitive in a time like this. I also hope that the family does not read your horrible remark. May Hashem heal your soul.

      • @ #3:
        How dare you! Your insensitivity is appalling. So terrible things befall people who dress immodestly, or their family members? Can you please, in your infinite wisdom, explain the presence of chasidishe babies at Sloan Kettering r”l, and the death of millions tzadikei elyon (both men and women) at the hands of the Nazis ym”sh?
        The Rambam tells us that when a tragedy befalls a person, HE should be “mifashpesh bemaasav” – not that everyone else should decide why this terrible thing is happening to him.
        May the RBSO keep us all safe – you will certainly be protected by the שומר פתאים.

      • So this is the logic you think hashem is following as he sits on his throne:

        . Hmm, mother is not covering hair, I will let child and family languish in pain
        . Oh, mother has covered her hair, I will heal child, oh what a wonderful god I am

        Sorry, you and I do not share the same god.

      • #7 is trying to HELP & to give an option, NOT to give reproof! When a Jew does a Mitzvah that’s extra for him/her, it’s giving a sacrifice to G-d. #7 is encouraging Mrs. Zfat, as a married woman, to cover her hair (which, it’s obvious to see in the video, she does not) & to dress b’Tznius, as a Zchus for her daughter’s Rifuah Shilaymah Mihayrah. It’s also a Zchus for the daughter’s soul, even if C”V the worst happens. There are plenty of times that people say Tehillim for a sick person & R”L the worst happens. Does that mean people should stop saying Tehillim for a sick person? The Mitzvah is still a merit for the person’s soul. The Chabad of Southwest Coral Springs, Florida, is conducting a Mitzvah campaign in Danielle’s merit. It’s at:


        Quote: “Please take upon yourself a NEW Mitzvah that you will do on a regular basis. May the power of our combined good deeds storm the heavens & bring a Refuah Shlaima Ukrovah (a complete & speedy healing) to Danielle Chaya bat Aviva.” Then there’s a Mitzvah list afterward, of which Modesty is on the list.

    3. Without commenting directly on the tragedy confronting this family, the article raises the large issue of what is society’s obligation to fund end-of-life care once a medical decision has been made that there is no hope of recovery. If the parents of a child are willing to pay whatever the costs incurred of keeping someone on life-support indefinitely, clearly that is their right. However, if because of their religious beliefs the parents are expecting insurance companies or public subsidies (where there is no insurance) to keep righting checks to the hospital while insurance rates are skyrocketing, they may have a rude surprise. Society cannot and should not subsidize their religous preferences when we are cutting back so many other critical social services.

      • what you’re suggesting opens the floodgates for human beings to decide who’s life is more worthy of medical care.if one is too old, to developmentally disabled etc. then their life isn’t worth the bucks it costs to save them. a great many people already think this way. It’s no accident that one of the first things hitler did when he came to power was to execute all those housed in hospitals for the mentally ill or mentally disabled.

      • #9 – Insensitive comment –

        You sound as if the doctors have it right all the time. I know quite a few people who the “holy” doctors boldly gave them 2-3 months to live and they somehow lived 5, 10 and even 20 years afterwards.

        Doctors should be here for the sole purpose of trying to heal people and not be here to decide when people are to die.

        Death is irreversable – I would err on the side of caution – especially as it seems from the story that she is conscious to a certain extend.

        Miracles do happen…

        • Please note that the hospital denies intending to remove her from life support. By the report, she does not meet anyone’s criteria for death.

          Here’s the dilemma. In a situation of limited funds and resources, how does an institution avoid doing at least some triage? For instance, say the hospital has only one respirator. Who gets to use it? Someone in the declining stages of a terminal illness with no rational hope of recovery, or someone who has had severe trauma but will probably recover? The terminal patient will die shortly no matter what medical efforts are extended, but the trauma victim’s life can be saved by using the respirator immediately. Of course nothing is impossible for the Eibishter, but the doctors cannot rely on nor can they expect a miracle. They have rely on their best (albeit fallible) medical judgement.

          We pray three times every day for wisdom and understanding. May the One Who grants wisdom send such to all involved in this case.

          • You present your argument as if you have suffucient knowledge to participate in the conversation.
            #1. Maimonides owns over 100 mechanical ventilators, not one, if they run low on ventilators the dedicated staff of the Respiratory Therapy department aquire additional ventilators as needed. Every hospital has such a system in place.
            Your one ventilator scenario works in Somalia, not the USA.
            #2. You comment on this topic but you don’t even know the difference between a respirator and a ventilator? Not details that everybody needs to know, unless they are going to profess expertise.

      • Health insurance is something you pay into to get coverage. If the cost of giving you care exceeds what you’ve paid in over the years, that extra cost is built into the rates. Health insurance companies are not going broke. Instead of raising rates, maybe the executives should give up their luxurious offices. By the way, deciding whether to fund the cost of her care because of religious beliefs as opposed to because the doctors say it will be cost effective is illegal in the USA. Perhaps society should consider cutting back on social services that nobody paid in for.

      • Do you know how much a health insurance policy costs today? Do you think the insurance company is losing a penny here? For a single person about $500- for a family over $1,000-. They are loaded with money and yes they should pay. What are insurance policies made for? For the healthy people only? They make billions of dollars every year and should definitely pay. Hope she has a refuah shleima.

      • But as you stated at the start of your comment, you are not commenting on this particular case.

        Just a coincidence that you happen to write against government funding of end of life treatments today.

      • yes my dear liberal friends
        this is where it starts with obamacare starts, and this is where we give up more of our freedoms. and to whom do we give them up to ? to goverment or bureaucrats that willnot care about life of the eldery the sick etc etc. now you say it is not societys issue to pay for this. then when a older person need surgery you will say well why should society(medicare) pay he/she is not “expected” tolive that much more so it is a waste of money
        god save us from this …………

        • You miss the point…its NOT about emunah, nor is it “murder” when a hospital following accepted medical guidance determines that it will no longer sustain life using exceptional life support procedures. The legal question of what a commercial insurance carrier can or should do under the terms of its policy. Insurance companies routinely deny coverage for a wide range of drugs, therapies and procedures which are deemed experimental and/or not shown to have material therapeutic benefits. Those decisions are routinely reviewed and approved by the courts in over 95 percent of the cases that are appealed. End-of-life decisions fall into a similiar category where the insurance company is legally obligated to enforce the terms of its policy and cannot waive the policy for patient A but enforce it for patient B. That kind of arbitrary decisonmaking is what I fear most.

      • Exactly how much is a life worth to you? Who should decide that? What is the cost of a life and who is to say when there is no hope? Was the child declared brain dead? No! Is her heart beating? Yes! It is NOT as simple as you make it out to be. And the insurance companies collectively gain from all those clients that don’t need the benefit of such services, so when they do have to pay out on such claims, that is what they are there for! My heart doesn’t bleed for them, it bleeds for the sick and helpless. Insurance company rates will continue to skyrocket no matter what they pay out for. Hospitals will continue to get grants and donations for the good and charitable work that they do. Only G-d can decide when a person’s life is truly over and no one has the right to pretend or play at being G-d!

    4. http://www.chayimaruchim.com/ is national Agudath Israel of Americas culturally sensitive “‘end of life” advocacy and counseling, which is a team of Rabbis doctors and lawyers who advise and help out in situations like this.

      from their website:

      Do call Chayim Aruchim.
      For appropriate counseling and advice that is based on Halacha, or for a free copy of the Agudath Israel Halachic Medical Directive, please contact the Chayim Aruchim Center for Culturally Sensitive End of Life Advocacy and Counseling. The program coordinator, Rabbi Aron Wajsfeld, can be reached directly at 718-535-9061 or by e-mail chayimaruchim@agudathisrael.org.

      Hashem should send Danielle Chaya bas Aviva a refua sheleima bisoch shaar cholei yisroel

    5. @9 At a time not so long ago, life was not only a religious preference as you so crudely call it. @7 this family is more beloved by Hashem thyan you will ever be with your phoney yiddishkeit . Such a sad story my heart and prayers go out to the girl and her family.

    6. seems like the hospital is following orders from who? the article and video show that the hospital would grant the parents wishes but… but what? anyone have a clue what is really going on?

    7. I think she should change her name since Daniela has din in it sometimes under circumstances like this it should be look in too they should send someone to Reb Chaim kanefsky

    8. To numbers 7 & 9 may Hashem grant both of you a refuah hanefesh because you 2 definitely need it. May Hashem grant this lovely young yiddeshe girl a refuah Haguf immediately!

    9. This is just the beginning of Obamacare. We learnt in school that’s what liberal beliefs are. They do this in Europe -they do Not believe in prolonging terminal pts. lives!
      How anybody can vote Lib and call themselves Frum Jews is beyond me. Oh and the money they save they take to pay for abortions and birth control.

    10. As a Med Prof. I leave these decisions up to the Rabbis.
      But if they say here to try to keep this pt. alive, perhaps try to transfer her out to a good hospital that will try to help her. Johns Hopkins (Balto., Md.) is the best hospital in the world and they have top Neurosurgeons.

    11. Oiy nebach! Davening for a miracle.

      We had that happen here. A man was declared brain dead and the hospital wanted to pull the plug. Our LOR worked so hard with the family and a lawyer. In the end the hospital won and the plug was pulled. He died shortly there after.

      It is just plain wrong! The family should decide without doctors or hospitals or insurance companies. When my son was dying they asked us do many times to sign a DNR. They badgered us over and over to stop the medication that was keeping him alive. I don’t understand what their hurry is. They rushed another family on our floor. We had three children die that week.

      And them people wonder why they get so burned out.

      I pray with all my heart that this mother has a wonderful ending and this cam set the example of why we don’t pull the plug.

    12. There is a reason why the Democrat Party is the Party of Death. The libs have no value to life and are pushing the family to pull the plug. Some kids got shot and all of a sudden they want to ban guns and save lives. THEY ARE SO FULL OF THEMSELVES!

      • There is treatment available for paranoia and irrational thought processes. Please get yourself some help. This poor girl and her family are suffering enough – your prayers would be more helpful than your misplaced and hateful political rantings.

    13. @9. Torah is not a preference or a feeling. It is what G-d told His people. It is right that this person should stay alive and be helped to do so,because that is what it says in the Torah, and murder is wrong, because that is what it says in the Torah.

    14. Just so you know, Maimonides Hospital’s rabbi has just such a job. He goes to patient’s family and tells them that their family member is brain dead and keeping them alive does them no good. He offers advice to let them die, meaning stop all meds and food. After he tells them these things, he says, ” But you should ask your rabbi about this.:” I saw this when I was with a family member in the hospital. I was shocked.. The family was Russian. They agreed to let their patient die. Next day she died.

    15. I don’t understand those who are commenting on the mode of dress–are you G~d that you know why this family is being punished this way? How dare all of you. The emunah that this family has is astounding. With all my heart I wish a Refua Sheleima to Danielle Chaya bas Aviva bsoch cholei yisroel. Remember, that Hashem is the ultimate doctor!

      • Perhaps you should reconsider your comment. While the “sole” individual who made the appalling comment is disgusting and has a lot of introspection to do, I find your comment much worse.

        To say things like “all of you” and “to those” , when it was only one sick individual is repugnant. You may have not done it intentionally, but you should be sure of the circumstances, before lashing out like that. Someone who sees your comment but did not read through all those preceding yours, would get very misleading information.

        The fact is that it was ONE sick individual who made the comment. Everyone else involved was reprimanding him.

    16. I don’t believe the issue is here is whether they should pull the plug or not. The issue here is whether she should remain in a hospital setting. There is no further treatment being made available in this case. I believe the hospital is simply trying to get the family to move her into a more appropriate and cost effective setting such as a skilled nursing facility. A case like this costs a lot of money and ties up an ICU bed which may be needed for other patients with better prognosis. And before you comment about who lives and dies its not about that its about who is the most appropriate patient for that bed.

      To # 30 while I’m sure in the big picture the insurance company is probably not losing money, however on this case the both the insurance company and the hospital are and the hospitals pockets are definitely not as deep as the insurance companies.

    17. To all those who say that the insurance companies should simply “pay” as long as the family doesn’t want to pull the plug after the patient no longer meets a previously defined and medically accepted definition of “end-of-life care”, than the family should simply agree to assume the costs from that point forward. No one should be forced to pull the plug but at the same time, an insurance policy is a commercial contract, not a form of tzadakah, and the insurance company cannot simply “waive” the terms of the contract at the expense of its shareholders and other policyholders. If someone wants “unlimited coverage” than there are probably special P&C companies that will underwrite such a policy with the appropriate premiums.

    18. The insurance compensation issue is not about empathy, the power of emunah, the anecdotal stories about those who have been declared “medically dead” but then come back and make a miracle recovery etc. Its a much narrower issue of when a regulated insurance carrier can deviate from the terms of its tariff and coverage schedules and continue payments which are precluded under the terms of the specific policy in question. Families who don’t want to risk “involuntary” termination of end-of-life treatment based on halachic rather than “medical determinations are 100 percent entitled to seek a policy or umbrella coverage that will continue payments to the hospital under “any scenario”.

    19. I’m sorry for the family and the girl. May she get better soon.
      Just to clarify some facts: The mother said that Jews believe “everything goes by the heart. As long as the heart is beating the soul is still there.” That is not the opinion of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel and many other poskim that you can see here at http://www.hods.org. And here is a video of Rabbi Dovid Feinstein talking about his father’s position. http://hods.org/english/h-issues/YouTube_video pages/RabbiDovidFeinstein.asp
      Also, I’m not sure the TV channel and the Voiz keeps on repeating the term life support. The machine is called a ventilator. It vents air in and out of whatever you attach it to. If a football was attached to a ventilator venting air in and out, would the media report the ventilator was on life support?

    20. Yes 29, that’s his job. Some Rabbonim know the Halachos of when you can pull the plug. It’s not the job of Med Prof., like me, to do anything but prolong lives. Some of us have become PC and are following the lead by our Liberal Gov. and their Liberal views.

    21. To all those who posted the “rational health expenses conscious thoughts” my answer is a posuk which my father A’H learned with me and who was murdered in Lodz Ghetto. Al todin eyz chavero ad shtegia limkomo. It easy to be practical and “health cost sparing” when it is the other party . To me a survivor it is despicable attitude.

    22. I cannot believe the reaction to #7…maybe she said it a bit bluntly…but all the negative comments that followed are appalling.
      The fact remains is that we are all sad for her situation and wish her the speediest recovery….and yes …miracles do happen. Doctors are not G…d..However..and these are the facts…When you want something from G…d in a time of need, maybe we need to give something for that “extra” miracle. Something that might not be so easy and may be a sacrifice. After all, you don’t want your child to be the sacrifice…so what are you willing to sacrifice for HIM? Nobody is saying that we know why the One ABove sends us certain things in life. She did not imply that…that was your own maybe….let’s call it guilt – that was at work here. If I would be a betting person, I would say that most of the comments were from “orthodox” people…who don’t dress so orthodox. You see, nobody is casting blame or anything, but why don’t you go and ask all those liberal jews, who when in need of “miracles”, took upon themselves to change certain things and………..guess what…MIRACLES HAPPENED. ASK REB AMNON YITZCHOK FOR PROOF…ASK MANY REBBE’S…BUT IF YOU DON’T BELIEVE IN IT…IT WON’T HELP YOU…BECAUSE YOU WON’T MAKE THE CHANGES…..
      SORRY…the comment was not meant to hurt..she was just simply reminding people of their “options”…after all….WHAT DO YOU HAVE TO LOSE?????

      • thank you I am a man who wrote that comment in #7 and your right the comments were probably from people who call themselves orthodox and probably don’t dress how they should so they just get u upset if you speak about the dress code! I only ment for the better!

    23. No one can calculate the value of human life. Every minute of life is precious. It is important as a tikun for the soul to live as long as one is able to and not hasten the time of death. May she merit a refuah shelaimo.

    24. To all posters this is not the time to write all your opinions on this sad and unfortunate situation.
      Now is the time to only pray for this girl to have a refuah shelemah.


    25. #7 I know you meant well…however it is important to know how to organize your thoughts and convey the message properly. It would help, too, if you learned a bit of English, so you can spell properly. I mean that from my heart…not to discredit you. We live in a big country, and it’s important to know the language. It certainly helps in expressing our feelings and views.

    26. #58…people are just trying to help…we are all praying for a refuah …but it sometimes helps to be mekabel something in lieu of Hashems Rachmim…nothing wrong with bringing it to one’s attention…why do people get so sensitive when someone writes something because they are trying to help. It does not mean that they are not nice people…
      I fail to understand all the people who criticize someone trying to help…It wasn’t meant as a put down…just advice that you may call ‘”unsolicited”.

      • Want to help? Daven and give tzedokah.

        For all the holy #7 know, these people are recent baalai teshuva and keeping shabbos is a bigger sacrifice for them than all the.nisyonos the self righteous condescending #7 ever faced.

        Really thought your holy suggestion will help? Call them and offer it privately.

    27. #7. Your original comment was insensitive and inappropriate (I thought you were making a bad joke) but what’s worse is your apparent belief that Jews who don’t hold the exact same practices and attitudes that you do are, somehow, not really frum. How about that! Insensitive and arrogant too!
      Some points to ponder:
      1. There is no indication in the report that the mother does not cover her hair or dresses immodestly. Why did you assume that she does?
      2. Let’s say that the mother does accept additional chumras on herself. When her daughter passes on R’L, wouldn’t that cause her to loose faith?

      Chazal tell us that there are times when one should not give tochachah. This instance is one of the times they mention. Are you frummer than the Rabbonei haGemarah?

      • Before you throw insults, it’s good to read the whole history of comments.
        I was replying to a previous post that was arguing medical rationing based on a false premise of medical ecomnomics.
        The differnce is hardly nitpicking in this context. A ventilator is a relatively inexpensive therapy, a respirator is very expensive therapy.
        we should all daven for this young lady, she should have a refua sheima.
        having an inteligent, and informed discussion about an important related topic does not affect or preclude wishing her bruchah and mazel.
        Insults don’t do you, her or anybody else any good.

    28. Since this poor girl has a beating heart, and can blink, which means she has a functioning brain, how can anyone consider pulling the plug?
      She has a heart and a brain – keep her alive !

      • The article does not mention how long ago the eye blinking incident occurred.

        Is it possible her situation has worsened r”l?

        (Not that this would mean she should be disconnected. The posaik I follow would probably say doing so is forbidden. OTOH, there are apparently other shitos.)


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