Posted on December 16, 2008 · Posted in Brain Injury

Date: 12/17/2008 12:55 AM

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — A South Korean hospital said Wednesday it will appeal a court order to let a comatose patient die by removing her from a respirator, saying the case could prompt a trend in devaluing human life.

The order issued by the Seoul Western District Court last month was for Severance Hospital in Seoul to end the life of a 76-year-old patient, citing the people’s right to die with dignity.

The decision — the first court ruling of its kind in South Korea — was issued after the patient’s children filed a lawsuit following the hospital’s refusal to end the women’s life.

Severance Hospital announced Wednesday that it cannot accept the court’s ruling because it could lead to a social trend to take human life too lightly.

“We should make decisions carefully on matters of human life,” hospital spokesman Lee Sung-man said.

Lee said the hospital plans to appeal the ruling directly to the Supreme Court and skip an appellate court because the issue needs to be settled as soon as possible.

The hospital will first need the patient’s family — the plaintiffs in the case — to agree to the streamlined process, and if they refuse the hospital will appeal the case to an ordinary appellate court.

The patient’s children have said their mother had always opposed keeping people alive on machines when there is no chance of revival.

The patient, only identified by her family name Kim, has been in a vegetative coma since suffering brain damage in February. The Seoul district court said in a ruling that doctors at major Seoul hospitals agreed that she has no chance of revival and could live as long as three or four months.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press.

About the Author

Attorney Gordon S. Johnson, Jr.
Past Chair Traumatic Brain Injury Litigation Group, American Association of Justice :: 800-992-9447