Toronto, Canada – The family of a Toronto man who was declared brain dead by doctors in September is heaving a sigh of relief after a judge granted an injunction that will prevent a Canadian hospital from discontinuing life saving treatment tomorrow.
Hundreds of members of Toronto’s Jewish community packed the courtroom in support of Nissim and Rivka Ouanounou’s efforts to keep their 25 year old son Shalom on life support.
Shalom Ouanounou, who was studying business at a local college and working as a door and window installer, has been on a ventilator ever since he suffered a heart attack as a result of a severe asthma attack on September 27th.
He was declared brain dead three days later by doctors at Humber River Hospital as reported by CBC News Toronto (http://bit.ly/2ynxXob) but his father challenged the death certificate, calling it incompatible with his son’s religious beliefs.
A notice of application filed by Nissim Ouanounou said that Canadian laws that rely exclusively on brain activity as a measure of life violate his son’s religious liberties as guaranteed by Canadian law. A letter circulated this week by Ouanounou’s parents that appears on social media said that their son’s cardiopulmonary function is “very much working.”
According to The National Post (http://bit.ly/2ymfNmO), an affadavit filed by Nissim Ouanounou said that his son had specified that he believed in the definition of death as outlined in Jewish law.
“Shalom’s belief is that discontinuing life support in these circumstances is murder and therefore contrary to his fundamental belief in the sanctity of human life, a belief that is the foundation of Judaism,” wrote Nissim Ouanounou. “Anything less than continuing Shalom’s life support is a failure to accommodate his lifelong, firmly held religious beliefs.”
Meir HaLevi Weinstein, who ran a live stream of the court hearing on Facebook, posted that the judge “scolded the lawyer for the hospital” and “that many of the Jews in attendance applauded the judge and wept.”
Today’s ruling gives the Ouanounous time to seek out alternative arrangements for their son and also obligates the hospital to take life saving measures should Ouanounou’s heart stop beating.
Below video: Over 1,000 religious Jews attended the courthouse.(Meir HaLevi Weinstein)