Wife of man on life support asks Brooklyn Supreme Court to rescind death certificate

Jun 18, 2017

(JTA) — The wife of a Brooklyn man on life support has asked the New York borough’s Supreme Court to rescind a death certificate that she said was issued in error.

New York-Presbyterian Hospital issued a death certificate May 31 for Yechezkel Nakar, 68, several weeks after he was admitted to the hospital and suffered a stroke, the New York Post reported Sunday. He was placed on life support.

Doctors at the hospital declared him brain dead on the first day of Shavuot and issued an electronic death certificate. But Nakar remains on life support at Maimonides Medical Center, where New York-Presbyterian sent him after the death certificate was issued.

His wife, Sarah, who objected to taking her husband off life support for religious reasons, filed a lawsuit against the hospital late last week. She is asking the court to rescind the death certificate so she can file insurance claims for his current treatment.

“The man is still living, and the family is distraught at the whole situation,” their attorney, Morton Avigdor, told the Post.

Rabbi J. David Bleich, a professor of Jewish law at Cardozo Law School and an expert in biomedical ethics, told the Post that brain dead patients on respirators typically die in three to 12 days and that “there is room for error in everything, including neurological criteria.”

New York-Presbyterian did not comment to the Post on the case.