He Has a Death Certificate. His Family Says He's Still Alive

They're fighting to keep Shalom Ouanounou on life support in Canada
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 3, 2017 8:14 AM CDT
Pulling Plug on Brain-Dead Son Is 'Murder,' Family Says
   (Getty Images/sudok1)

A man will remain on life support in Canada for the time being, despite the fact that his death certificate has already been issued. Toronto's Shalom Ouanounou, 25, was declared brain dead three days after suffering an asthma attack on Sept. 27, reports the Canadian Press. But while Canadian guidelines define death as the irreversible end of brain function and breathing ability, Ouanounou's Orthodox Jewish family is fighting to keep Ouanounou on life support based on their religion's assertion that death occurs only when the heart stops beating. Though the case has yet to be decided, a judge granted a temporary injunction Wednesday to keep Ouanounou on a ventilator and feeding tube at Humber River Hospital. The family's lawyer says the move came just in time.

"They were going to pull the plug tomorrow," Hugh Scher told the Canadian Press on Wednesday. Had that happened, Ouanounou would've suffered "the ultimate irreparable harm," his father wrote in a court affidavit. The BBC quotes it as explaining that "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." "Both the family and the community are committed to having this question addressed," Scher says, while acknowledging Ouanounou could meet his religion's definition of death before that happens. He adds "the definition of death in Canada must reflect the accommodation of religious difference," per the New York Daily News. Hospital officials haven't commented. (Read the latest development in the somewhat similar case of Jahi McMath.)

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