TORONTO, January 7, 2014 ( – An elderly gentleman at the center of a recent Supreme Court ruling that barred doctors from deciding whether a patient lives or dies will be transferred from the hospital where doctors had fought to withdraw life support against family wishes to another health-care facility.

Hassan Rasouli, 61, has been in Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre’s critical care facility since 2010 after contracting a severe infection during the removal of a benign tumor in his head. Bacterial meningitis and ventriculitis left Rasouli in a coma with widespread injury to his brain as well as damage to his brainstem and spinal cord.

Doctors determined Rasouli to be in a Persistent Vegetative State (PVS), despite compelling evidence to the contrary that his family members say they witnessed. Concluding that Rasouli had no hope of recovery, doctors decided to withdraw all treatments, including ventilation. But the family disagreed with the diagnosis and sought an injunction to prevent the withdrawal of life-sustaining treatment.


The case finally wound its way to the Supreme Court, where the justices ruled in October 2013 that doctors cannot “unilaterally determine” to withdraw life support against family wishes.

While the court allowed the decision to be appealed if the doctors so chose, Rasouli’s transferal plans indicate that the ruling will not be challenged.

In the meantime, Rasouli has made progress towards recovery. He is no longer diagnosed as “vegetative,” but doctors now say he is in a “minimally conscious” state.

Transferring Rasouli out of Sunnybrook hospital to West Park Healthcare Centre has pros and cons for the family.

While the family is relieved that Rasouli would no longer be under the care of the doctors who fought for his death, they are concerned about a monthly basic accommodation fee of over $1700 that they would have to pay, saying that they cannot afford the cost.

The Toronto Star is reporting that the fee is negotiable depending on a family’s financial circumstances.

Rasouli’s wife Parichehr Salasel, who is a doctor, said that she is pleased about the transfer since the facility offers more rehabilitative services that will help her husband recover.

Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, said he is pleased to see Rasouli transferred to a facility that can give him the care that he needs. He hopes the family will find the resources to enable that care. 


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