Hollywood, 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.”