In a case that is beginning to resemble the battle over Terri Schiavo, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Daniel S. Murphy ruled that the daughter of radio announcer Casey Kasum can starve and dehydrate him to death by having his food and fluids removed. The bitter standoff between the wife of the radio icon and the children from his first marriage over whether he will be fed and hydrated has been played out in court this week.
On Monday Judge Murphy appointed an attorney who will meet with Kasem and his doctors in Washington state. Then, today, the judge granted the daughter of Casey Kasem the authority to withhold medication, food and fluids from her ailing father.
As AP reports:
In the ruling Wednesday, attorney Troy Martin said, Superior Court Judge Daniel Murphy determined that giving Kasem food and fluids would be harmful and cause more pain for the 82-year-old former radio personality.
His daughter Kerri Kasem initially implemented the end-of life measures on June 6.
On Monday, Murphy ordered the reinstatement of feeding and other care while a court-appointed attorney consulted with Casey Kasem and doctors.
Martin, an attorney for Kerri Kasem, said that ruling was reversed on Wednesday.
The New York Daily News, which first reported the ruling, said Kasem’s wife of 34 years, Jean Kasem, stormed out of court after Murphy’s decision.
She and Kerri Kasem have been involved in a dispute over care.
“The court’s decision today upheld our father’s explicit wishes as expressed by him in his health directive,” Kerri Kasem said in a statement after the hearing. She was referring to a directive her father signed in 2007, saying he would not want to be kept alive if it “would result in a mere biological existence, devoid of cognitive function, with no reasonable hope for normal functioning.”
Steve Haney, the attorney for Jean Kasem, alleged Kerri Kasem’s motives were entirely different. She “could cash in immediately” on her share of a $2 million life insurance policy when he dies,” CNN reported.
“Only God knows when to take someone,” she said.
Kasem’s voice counted down the “American Top 40” hits each week for nearly four decades in a radio show heard around the world. He voiced the cartoon character Shaggy on “Scooby-Doo” cartoons for 40 years.
As was brought up in the Terri Schiavo case, starving and dehydrating a patient is very painful for the patient.
Dr. David Stevens, the president of the Christian Medical Association, says “most so-called experts have never seen someone die in this manner.”
However, Stevens worked for 13 years in Africa, where the most common cause of death in children is dehydration from gastroenteritis.
“I have seen hundreds if not thousands of patients with dehydration and some of them so far gone, that despite resuscitation attempts, they died,” Dr. Stevens said.
“As dehydration begins, there is extreme thirst, dry mouth and thick saliva,” Stevens explains. “The patient becomes dizzy, faint and unable to stand or sit; has severe cramping in the arms and legs as the sodium and potassium concentrations in the body goes up as fluids go down.”
“In misery, the patient tries to cry but there are no tears. The patient experiences severe abdominal cramps, nausea and dry-heaving as the stomach and intestines dry out,” Stevens continued.
Stevens says patients who die form starvation and dehydration have cracking skin and lips and their tongue swells. As mucous membranes dry out and break down, patients will suffer from severe nose bleeds.
A patient’s hands and feet become extremely cold as the circulatory system begins to shut down and move blood to vital organs in an attempt to keep the person alive. The patient has problems urinating and is prone to having excruciating headaches.
“Some patients have hallucinations and seizures as their body chemistry becomes even more imbalanced,” Stevens said.
“Contrary to those that try to paint a picture of a gentle process, death by dehydration is a cruel, inhumane and often agonizing death,” Dr. Stevens concludes.